Happy 36th Birthday, Tiger Woods!
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

Thank you, thank you -- no presents, please!

Tiger Woods blows out 36 candles today — Friday, December 30th — so we’re sending him our best wishes and hope he has a wonderful day celebrating in top form.

Thirty-six. That’s actually quite young in golfer years, but Tiger’s an old 36.  Well, depends on how you see it, but naturally, the hot topic of discussion is whether or not he has time to beat Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record.

At 32 Tiger won his 14th major at the 2008 U.S. Open (where he played virtually on one leg to beat Rocco Mediate in the legendary 18-hole playoff). Which put him three years ahead of the pace in his goal to eventually pass Nicklaus. Three-plus years later, Tiger is three years older, but has failed to make more headway toward the magic number.

Nicklaus was 36 when he won his 14th major. With Tiger’s winless period from 2008 to 2011, he’s now lost his lead and on the same pace as Jack, who went on his own drought and didn’t snag the 15th until he was 38.

Assuming Tiger stays healthy (which is never guaranteed, especially with his long history of injuries), he’s right on track to catch Nicklaus, who won three more majors in his 40s. When you think about it that way, Tiger has plenty of time to make up for his three-year dry spell.. He lost some valuable headway when injuries forced him to sit out four majors since the ’08 U.S. Open.

No reason to fret over the lost time, though. I’m going to throw it out there and say Tiger will win the Masters in 2012 — well, that is if he can hold off Rory McIlroy — putting him ahead of Jack’s pace once more.

Again, Happy Birthday, Tiger! Woot!