MEDINAH, Ill. -- What was once unthinkable, then possible, then somewhat probable, now seems inevitable.
"It's not something I could get next year," Woods said.
Well, no. But it sure seems like he will match and then overtake the Golden Bear sooner rather than later.
Woods won the 88th PGA Championship on Sunday in such dominating fashion that such talk is not out of the question. His five-stroke victory over Shaun Micheel gave him two straight majors and four of the last eight. It evokes memories of another monopolizing stretch from 1999 through 2002, when Woods won seven of 11 major championships to really fuel such talk.
Then he cooled.
Now he's on fire again.
"No matter how he finishes his career, so far to this point it's been pretty incredible," Jim Furyk said. "Pretty impressive. A lot of people predicted he would give Nicklaus' record a run, but probably would not have predicted he would get to 12 this soon."
What if Woods is on the cusp of another surge of major victories?
Woods might not be driving the ball with the same precision, but he is playing much like that period. He is smarter, more experienced. And his short game is phenomenal.
"I think when he won the  U.S. Open, lapping the field there [by 15 shots], I was pretty impressed," said David Toms. "Obviously the way he's played as of late, you have an argument for being just as good now as he was then.
"I think the guy has got the best mind in the game, regardless of what his swing is all about. He can beat people with that even when his swing is not that great."
No matter his current form, getting six more major championships will never be easy. Remember, that is the career of someone such as Nick Faldo or Lee Trevino.
Woods will always be favored at the Masters, where he has won four times. Next year's U.S. Open is at Oakmont, where Woods has never played. The British Open is at Carnoustie, where he tied for seventh in 1999, a month before going on the 7-for-11 major binge. Next year's PGA is at Southern Hills, where he tied for 12th at the U.S. Open in 2001.
So next year presents possibilities, but no guarantees.
What if he just took one major a year for the next six years? That would tie him with Nicklaus in 2012, at age 36.
Even if he gets one every other year, Woods could reach Nicklaus at age 42. And there is no reason to think that Woods would not be winning at that age.
Chances are, though, the majors will come in bunches.
"It took Jack over 20 years to get his," Woods said. "It's going to take a career, and I've just got to keep plugging along and keep trying to win these things. I've still got a long way to go, 18 is a pretty big number."
Yeah, but just six more to go.
Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.