Tiger Woods still believes he'll pass 18

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Tiger Woods shot a 6-under 65 in the first round of The Barclays on Thursday, took the clubhouse lead, and then pronounced himself ready to attack the goal he long ago posted on his bedroom wall.

Asked after his post-round news conference if he still believes he will break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles, Woods told ESPNNewYork.com, "Absolutely."

Woods, 34, has won 14 major championships; Nicklaus won his 14th at 35. But Woods has gone winless in his last eight Grand Slam events, and the multiple surgeries on his left leg and the admissions of infidelity that led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren on Monday have golf fans asking two questions:

• Will Tiger ever really be Tiger again?

• Can Tiger still catch and pass the Bear?

"I look at it this way," Woods said. "[Ben] Hogan won all nine of his [majors] at my age and older. I think for every kid out there, the goal is to get there. That is the benchmark in our sport, and that's still my goal."

Ian O'Connor is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.