Did playing and winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines actually hurt Tiger Woods’ chances of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ career record of 18 major championships?

That’s the thought San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy puts forth in his column this week. He suggests that the damage Woods may have sustained by playing on his bum knee that week may outlast the glory that came from his gutsy, against-odds win.

It’s a bit of a new perspective on the event that is often remembered as one of Tiger’s finest efforts. If he’d hung up the Nike’s that weekend would he be playing at Congressional this week? Would he have already replaced that major victory with a 14th and possible 15th?

There’s no way to know one way or the other, but Purdy sets an ominous tone when he closes with the phrase, “Woods called the victory ‘probably the greatest tournament (08 US Open) I’ve ever had.’ Let’s hope it is not the last great tournament he has.”