If you were to go to the year 2032 and look back at the remarkable career and legacy of Tiger Woods, what would it be?
Does he get back on the major roll he was on from 2000 through 2005 that established him as one of the true greats of the game?
Do lingering injuries and never-ending doubts hound him until he retires and he falls short of his goals of winning at least 19 major championships?
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.
If we gaze into the crystal ball and look ahead, we see that Woods is the all-time winningest golfer in PGA Tour history. Given another 10 reasonably healthy years and a few more after that, Woods puts up a win total number that may be impossible to catch as he is the first golfer ever to win over 100 PGA Tour events. He also will win over 30 World Golf Championship events as he plays well enough to qualify for them until he reaches 50. A magician at Doral and Firestone, home of two of the WGC crown jewels, he will be a serious contender as long as his body lets him.
Woods will settle into playing roughly 14-16 tournaments a year. He will play the majors, obviously, as he will still be eligible for The Masters and the PGA Championship forever and the Open Championship until his 60th birthday after the 2035 Championship. Woods will receive a few special exemptions as well from the USGA for the US Open if he needs them, provided he can still make the cut. Torrey Pines in San Diego along with Murifield Village in Ohio and his Washington based tournament will be on the dance card every year along with visits to Bay Hill and whatever tournaments he enjoys to play in and be seen.
Woods' biggest legacy will be the generation of golfers that took up the game because they watched him on television and wanted to be just like Tiger. Woods will always be a marketable star on television and the Internet and will pitch a variety of products well after his prime playing years are behind him.
His foundation raised millions of dollars and, like Jack Nicklaus, a second full tour stop will honor his foundation, but not Woods himself.
Woods warmed to the fact that he was always seen as more than just a pro golfer. He embraced his celebrity more as he got older. The carefully crafted image, shattered when his marital problems became public, were not as tight the second time around and he became comfortable as Tiger the person as well as Tiger the golfer in public.
Woods was never a good fit on the Champions Tour and outside of the US Senior or Senior British Open Championship—which he will win at least one of each—he will not really be a regular unless the format or the location really wows him. He continues to take the appearance money and plays overseas a few times a year, even winning a bit more often later in his career against weaker fields.
Bottom line, he will have been a force in the game as long as his body let him be one.
The injury bug never really went away. Golfers, with the torque and pressure they take from those hard swings, never really ever get fully healthy once they start to show signs of stress injuries. Tiger was no exception, but would not miss he huge chunks of time like he did from 2006 on for a variety of reasons. Woods became much more choosy on where he would play and, much to the dismay of the PGA Tour, really stopped competing in the FedEx Cup after awhile.
Yes, he passes Jack, but it will not be easy. Woods will have 19 majors on his resume when all was said and done. Augusta was his friend and he could take three more green jackets to give him seven total. Another Open Championship at St. Andrews and a PGA Championship will follow as well, but he will never find the formula to win another US Open.
Tiger Woods goes down as the best ever. A force that changed the game, made millions for his competitors, and gave hope to millions touched by his foundation.