Woods, who will turn 43 on December 26, took his tally of PGA Tour wins to 80, two behind the all-time record of Sam Snead, but it is Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles that he has long coveted.
Many thought his multiple back injuries had put paid to that, but Begay, Woods’ college roommate at Stanford, says the pursuit of Nicklaus is back on the agenda.
“I think now the first win is out of the way he is focused on getting off 14 [major wins] and on to 15,” four-time PGA Tour winner Begay told CNN Sport.
“I do not think that’s out of the realm of possibility.”
Woods underwent spine fusion surgery in April 2017, paving the way for a remarkable comeback this season in which he briefly led the Open with nine holes to play before finishing sixth and came second at August’s US PGA.
He scored three other top-five finishes, and led September’s season-ending Tour Championship from start to finish..
Woods famously won all 14 of his major titles when leading after 54 holes but Begay says he will have to get better at coming out of the pack on the final day if he wants to add to his total.
“I don’t think he has as much firepower as he used to have and can go out there and dominate like we saw him in so many of his other major championships,” said Begay, the only full-blood native American on the Tour.
“I think it’s going to be a little tighter and in some cases he may have to come from behind after 54 holes which he hasn’t really been very good at in his career.”
Begay is one of the few people in Woods’ inner circle, and he admits he feared his friend’s career was over.
“I was sat in his living room right after the first surgery [in March 2014] and he was moving around like an 85-year-old man,” he says. “I literally thought the career of the greatest golfer I’d ever known and one of my dearest friends in the world was coming to an end.”