Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes said: “Woods has already won three Tour events this year so it’s impossible to see how he won’t break Snead’s record. He’s looking like the old Tiger of late and we’re really starting to fear paying out on him every time he takes to the course.”
With the Open only two weeks away and another win under his belt, Woods can achieve yet another milestone this Sunday. He goes straight back into action after capturing the AT&T National and, if he now adds the Greenbrier Classic the 36-year-old will take his PGA Tour earnings through the $100million (£80million) mark. He is, of course, already in a league of his own with his $99million.
Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson are next best with $66million (£53million) and then comes Jim Furyk on $51million (£41million).
As for Nicklaus, whom Woods has now overtaken with 74 victories on the circuit, he finished his career with total winnings of $5.7million (£4.6million). Good enough only for 209th place on the table now. Woods remains four behind Nicklaus, though, in what matters most – majors – and has been stuck on 14 since the 2008 US Open.
Even with four wins in the last seven months, more than anybody else in the game has managed, he knows that Royal Lytham is where people will be judging him again.
“It’s going to be totally different shot-making and prep,” Woods said. “I’m going to have to start practising some different shots and getting used to hitting the ball a little bit lower. It’s a totally different game playing links golf.”
He does have the comfort of knowing he has mastered it three times already – St Andrews in 2000 and 2005 by eight and five-shot margins and Hoylake in 2006 by two – and he has one good memory of the Lancashire course.
It was there in 1996 that he took the silver medal as low amateur, finishing 22nd, and his second-round 66 matched the best score by any amateur in Open history at the time. Tom Lewis went one better last July.
When the event returned to Lytham in 2001, Woods was “only” 25th, but he had just completed his ‘Tiger Slam’ (holding all four tirles simultaneously) three months earlier, so he can be cut some slack there.
In terms of PGA Tour titles only Snead is ahead of him now with 82. “I’ve had a number of good years in my career so far and I feel I’ve a lot more ahead of me,” said Woods. “It feels great to get to 74 wins and pass Jack. It’s something I’m very proud of.”
The American went into The Masters on the back of a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the US Open on the back of victory at the Memorial Tournament, but the majors were disappointing – 40th at Augusta and 21st at the Olympic Club.
More Tour wins can only add to his confidence, however, and he has not forgotten that prior to his victory at the unofficial Chevron Challenge in California he had gone over two years without a title and had seen his marriage end after revelations about his serial adultery. “I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again,” he added. “That was what, six months ago? A lot of media people didn’t think I could win again and I had to deal with those questions for quite a bit. It was just a matter of time. I could see the pieces coming together.
“My ball-striking so far this year has gotten more and more consistent.”