Much to the chagrin of a great number of loyal Jack Nicklaus fans, I think it's already a done deal that Tiger Woods will someday retire as the player who won the most major golf championships.

Much to the chagrin of a great number of loyal Jack Nicklaus fans, I think it's already a done deal that Tiger Woods will someday retire as the player who won the most major golf championships.

I don't see Woods coming any closer to Nicklaus' record 18 major titles this year, however.

The schedule supposedly was going to be in his favor, but then Woods crashed his Cadillac Escalade last November outside his mansion in a gated community in Orlando, Fla. That set off a chain of events involving accusations of extramarital affairs that sent the world's top-ranked player figuratively crashing back to earth.

So let's forget The Masters, which he has won four times. It's over, anyway, but Woods did somehow manage a tie for fourth place in his season debut there last month despite a media circus setting up shop right outside Augusta National Golf Club. The many flaws now permeating his game were exposed during a tough weekend, though.

The next major is the U.S. Open on June 17-20 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Woods, who has won 14 majors, set tournament records for score in relation to par (12-under) and margin of victory (15 strokes) when the national championship was last staged there in 2000.

But we can forget that one, too, in part because Woods is flying solo these days after he and swing coach Hank Haney recently parted ways. Without help, Woods' driver just won't allow him to win it, not with those tight fairways and high rough. He also is struggling with a neck injury that forced him to withdraw from THE PLAYERS Championship earlier this month.

That came on the heels of his poor play at the Quail Hollow Championship a week earlier, when he missed a cut for the first time since 2006. Some of the game's insiders suggest Woods quit trying at that event, which might provide insight as to what his emotional state might be right now given his personal problems. Moreover, nobody wins a U.S. Open without being solely focused on the task at hand.

Two weeks ago, Woods announced he will play the British Open on July 15-18 on the Old Course at St. Andrews Links in Scotland. He'll be attempting to become the event's only three-time winner on the fabled layout where the first British Open was played in 1882.

Then the final major is the PGA Championship on Aug. 12-15 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc. Given its list of champions, the PGA Championship seems to be the easiest of the majors to win, and Woods already owns four titles to match his number of victories at The Masters. He's won the U.S. Open and British Open three times each.

No way does he win either of those events, either. Not this year. It's simply too soon. Woods reportedly is channeling his efforts toward saving his marriage, and that's exactly what he should be doing under the circumstances.

But at some point, Woods will resume his career in earnest, and look out when that day arrives.

After all, Woods has made 225 career starts as a professional and won 71 tournaments. In another vernacular, that's a batting average of .316. He's been almost as lethal in the majors, winning 14 of 48 as a professional for a nifty .292 clip. Nicklaus hit .127 overall (73 wins in 576 professional starts) and .132 in majors (18 wins in 136 starts), although it should be noted that his numbers do reflect the 100 or so tournaments he played long after his game went into serious decline.

As an ambassador of the sport, Nicklaus doubtlessly felt an obligation to continue to make appearances at most high-profile events, the Memorial Tournament he founded included. I don't see Woods sticking around for any goodwill of that sort.

Overall, Woods has made the cut in 93.7 percent of the events he's started (224 out of 239), including five of 14 as an amateur. Nicklaus made the cut in 85.2 percent of his starts (506 out of 594), including 16 of 18 as an amateur.

I wrote a few years ago when Woods got married and started a family that those developments in his personal life would present tremendous challenges, and that's now been proven correct.

Perhaps the thing I respect and admire most about Nicklaus is the fact that he was so dominant even while traveling the country with his wife, Barbara, and five children in tow. "Team Nicklaus" is how former television analyst Jack Whitaker once described the entourage. Nicklaus' first child was born in 1961, one year before he turned pro. Woods already had won 60 times entering 2007, the year in which the first of his two children was born.

Furthermore, Sam Snead, who won a PGA Tour-record 82 tournaments and seven majors in all, had only 28 victories to his credit by 1944 when the first of his two children was born.
Still, comparing Woods' success rate with that of Nicklaus is simply too startling to ignore.

Some reports indicate that Woods' wife, Elin, already has begun divorce proceedings. If true, that likely would stop him in his tracks, but only temporarily. Almost every divorced man I've encountered has thrown himself into his work at some point, and Woods' job is golf. That isn't going to change.

Detractors also like to point out that Woods will turn 35 in December, and statistics do indicate that few players win major championships once they reach that age. Nicklaus, 70, won eight more, however. That included seven during a six-season stretch beginning in 1975, the year in which he turned 35 and Woods was born.

Besides, Nicklaus himself is always saying today's players in general maintain a better fitness level than was the case during his legendary career. He likes to point out that today's players also benefit from technological advancements made in balls and equipment. Moreover, he was 46 and already a grandfather when he made that now-famous back-nine Sunday charge at Augusta National to win The Masters a record sixth time in 1986.

Even after writing off this forgettable season, that tells me Woods might have another decade left to continue his run at Nicklaus' long-standing record. That's 40 more majors, give or take depending on what else could develop.

I've done the math, so please forgive me if I feel it's very hard to believe Woods isn't going to break the record eventually.

Kurtis Adams is a ThisWeek sportswriter. He can be reached at