Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: March 5, 12:12 PM ET
Jack Nicklaus backs Tiger Woods
ESPN.com news services
While many have questioned Tiger Woods' ability to catch Jack Nicklaus for the most professional majors won, one man has never wavered in his belief of Woods: Nicklaus.
In what now sounds like a broken record, Nicklaus maintains that records are made to be broken, including his gold standard of 18 professional majors, despite Woods' rough weekend.
Woods' effort at the Honda Classic included two lost balls, four shots in the water and 15 shots out of the bunkers. He made four double bogeys, was never better than 3-under par at any point and was under par for only 26 out of the 72 holes he played.
None of this was enough to alarm Nicklaus.
"I still think he'll break my record," Nicklaus said Sunday at the Honda Classic. "Tiger's talent, at 37 ... it's not that old. I won four after that. They were spread out. It wasn't that difficult. I don't think for Tiger to get four or five more -- or six or seven -- is that big a stretch."
Woods, of course, has been stuck on 14 since winning the U.S. Open in a playoff at Torrey Pines in 2008. Perhaps of more interest than his 0-for-14 streak since then is that he has not seriously contended in any of the majors since giving up a two-shot lead to Y.E. Yang at the 2009 PGA Championship. Sure, he was tied for the lead at the turn at the Masters two years ago. He was in the penultimate group at Pebble Beach in the 2010 U.S. Open, as he was at Royal Lytham & St. Annes last summer.
Woods said he will defend his title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, held March 21-24 at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla. The Masters starts in 38 days, and Woods will be among the top two favorites to win a fifth green jacket.
"I still think he can do it," Nicklaus said of Woods' chase for the record. "But that said, he has still got to do it. He hasn't won one in five years. He had better get with it if he's going to."
Nicklaus never went through a major championship drought this severe, except for the 20 majors he played between the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill and his 18th and final major at the 1986 Masters when he was 46.
But Woods still likes his chances to catch The Golden Bear.
"It's not that far off," Woods said when asked to compare his game at the Honda Classic with Torrey Pines. "I feel like I'm probably just not quite driving it as well. My iron game is pretty good and my short game is way better than it was at Torrey. I feel very comfortable with my putting, so I need to obviously get it in play a little bit more and attack from there, because everything else is pretty good."
Time will tell if that will be good enough to catch Nicklaus.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.