DUBLIN, Ohio — Jack Nicklaus, who became golf’s greatest champion after a standout career at Ohio State, knows his record of 18 major championships probably is safe for many years to come.
That doesn’t mean he likes how it happened.
Tiger Woods, once on track to surpass Nicklaus’ majors record, hasn’t won a major championship since he picked up his 14th at the 2008 U.S. Open. The reality is that given his declining health and age (41), he probably doesn’t have five more major wins in him, if any. Woods’ struggles took a sad turn Monday when he was charged with DUI after police found him asleep in his car.
Woods’ arrest came on the week of The Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, a PGA Tour event hosted by Nicklaus at Muirfield Village, a course he designed. That put Nicklaus in the unenviable position of fielding a boatload of Woods-related questions at his customary Memorial news conference on Tuesday. In true Nicklaus form, though, he was frank but empathetic when it came to discussing his greatest challenger.
“Tiger, I’ve always thought, was going to break my record,” Nicklaus said. “Do I think he probably won’t now? I don’t think unless — I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really have no idea what his operation — you’re asking me questions that I can’t answer.
“Did I enjoy watching him play? Absolutely. Did I enjoy every time Tiger did something, my name was mentioned right beside it? It kept me relevant. It was as good for me as it was for him. As I’ve told Tiger, and we’ve talked about it a hundred times, anybody want to see their records be broken? Of course not. But do I want to see somebody not have the ability because of physical problems not to be able to compete to have that chance? I don’t like that at all. I feel bad for him that that’s happened.
“He’s been great for the game of golf. And I think he needs all our help. And we wish him well.”
The Ohio State legend looks poised to hold his record for the foreseeable future, even if he wishes Woods had been able to make a better run at it.