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Jack Nicklaus says Tiger can beat current slump

Jack Nicklaus

After going without any kind of win for 15 months now, Tiger Woods’ game has never looked in such a state of disrepair. But Jack Nicklaus, the man Woods was once tipped to leave behind in the history books, continues to believe that the 35-year-old will be back.

Woods has already accomplished some astonishing deeds in the last 15 years, including the unprecedented ‘Tiger’-slam – that is, holding all four majors at the same time, when he won the US Open, the Open and the PGA Championship in 2000 then won the Masters in 2001. But Woods still trails Nicklaus when it comes to majors, with 14 to the older man’s 18.

Speaking yesterday at a promotional event for this week’s Honda Classic, however, Nicklaus told reporters that he believed the current world No. 5 would eventually beat that number. "I still think he’ll break my record,” Nicklaus said. “I’m surprised that he has not bounced back by now. I think he’s got a great work ethic. He’s so determined to what he wants to do. I’m very surprised that he has not popped back.”

Nicklaus recalled a slump of his own, when he went almost two years without a win before triumphing again at the 1980 US Open. “All of a sudden I said, 'Hey, you know, maybe this is my time to start doing it the right way again.' And all of a sudden your mind turns around.

“You just keep working at it and you keep doing things, and all of a sudden, something happens that kicks in. And I think that's what will happen with Tiger."

Questioned on Woods’ character, the man they still call the Golden Bear offered a generous appraisal. “He got maybe off the track, but I think he's really a principled kid,” Nicklaus said. “Did he have some wayward [moments]? Yes. But are we all perfect? No.”

Woods himself is absent from this week’s event, though the current No. 5 says he is currently feeling “a lot more balanced” in his life – even if his game looked distinctly unbalanced at the Accenture Match Play Championship a week ago.

Woods has also come under fire this week from Rory McIlroy, who suggested that the player might never again dominate golf in the way he did in the past.

Steve Colton

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