Sure, in the afterglow of your magical triumph at Augusta National earlier this year, talk of your reaching Jack’s mark of 18 major championships suddenly revived after years in a coma.
But let’s be realistic. The idea that you’ll add three more majors to your resume is just as farfetched as it was before you won last year’s Tour Championship and this year’s Masters.
Let me tell you why.
First of all, though your fourth back surgery has enabled you to play golf—and play well—it’s not exactly free and comfortable.
How do we know? You said so, after fighting your way to an even-par 71 in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
“My back impacts every shot I play,” you said after the round. “It’s just part of the deal. Let me put it this way. I feel every shot I hit. I think that’s always going to be the place from here going forward.”
The cool conditions at Pebble Beach definitely didn’t help. You probably would have played better in warmer temperatures.
“Oh, god, yeah. It's Carmel,” you agreed.
In the second place, your time window is closing. You have one major left, the British Open, before you turn 44 in December. Julius Boros was the oldest man to win a major, at 48 years, 4 months, when he claimed the PGA Championship title in 1968. You have 18 more majors before you’re older than Boros was.
That means you have to win three of the next 18 to tie Nicklaus and four of the next 18 to beat him. That’s not going to happen.
The argument for that assertion is perhaps strongest of all. In order to win three or four majors, you’ll have to beat younger, stronger players who haven’t yet developed the maladies that have wounded your career in recent years. Your touch with the flat stick isn't as unerring as it used to be, and you'll need to make a lot more putts to win a few more majors.
Specifically, you’ll have to beat Brooks Koepka, who has hogged four of the nine majors since the 2017 Masters, not including the 2019 U.S. Open. And he’s only one player. Another thing, the conservative approach you took to Saturday's third round simply isn't going to work against the bombers who populate the game.
Pars weren't good enough at Pebble Beach.
As much as we enjoyed the realization of your amazing comeback at the Masters, we also recognized that we shouldn’t burden you with unrealistic expectations. More often than not, you’ll disappoint us.
That’s our fault, not yours. But as for Nicklaus’ record, just reconcile yourself to the fact that it’s not going to happen.