Jack Nicklaus still believes in Tiger Woods’ future in Major tournaments and recalls what made him “pass the baton” to Tiger Woods.

June 2, 2024

Jack Nicklaus still believes in Tiger Woods’ future in Major tournaments and recalls what made him “pass the baton” to Tiger Woods.

He shot a 10 over 82 in the third round at the 2024 Masters thereby finishing last on the leaderboard. This has created speculations regarding his major run nearing its end. However, Jack Nicklaus does not agree with them. The 18-time major champion is certain that the golf legend could turn the tables in the coming days.

Nicklaus was recently present at a fundraiser in Ohio called the Legends Luncheon. While talking in a press conference, the legendary golfer felt that Woods had some physical trouble that affected his game. But the 84-year-old was confident that the Ace golfer would overcome the phase. As quoted by Golf Digest, Nicklaus said,

“Tiger has the ability to still play. He doesn’t play, obviously, quite as well as he did, but I think a lot of that is his physical ailments. I think there’s a question about that. But I’ve watched him hit balls a little bit and watched him play a little bit lately. He hits the ball pretty well. It’s just trying to keep his body together while he plays, particularly having to walk.”

The PGA Championship is fast approaching and Woods has already confirmed his participation. Questions are floating around among his fans whether he can repeat the 2000’s Valhalla moment.

Jack Nicklaus, who saw Tiger Woods overshadowing him at the 2000 PGA Championship, asserted that the 15-time major champion could be competitive if the latter can walk 72 holes. The Golden Bear stated that if the latter can take forward his competitiveness in the third round, it could help him win the long-awaited 16th major.

“He’ll be competitive at least two rounds because that’s what he did at Augusta. And whether he’s competitive in the third … if he is competitive in the third, then he certainly will be competitive in the fourth. It’s sort of a progression in how you work.”

As mentioned by Nicklaus, Woods was great in the first two rounds at the 2024 Masters. Amid the challenging conditions at Augusta National, the Ace golfer shot 73 and 72 in the first two rounds before finishing 16 over par at the end of the tournament.

Jack Nicklaus recalls what made him “pass the baton” to Tiger Woods

The Golden Bear’s last top-10 finish at the majors came during the 1998 Masters. Although he did compete in the golf’s most prestigious events until 2005. However, he knew his time was up when he saw Woods’ brilliance at the 2000 PGA Championship.

After missing consecutive cuts in 1996 and 1997, Nicklaus did not compete at the PGA Championship for the next two years. But at the 106th edition, the Golden Bear participated in the tournament for the last time in his career. He closely watched Woods shooting fires at Valhalla which made him realize his time in the game was up.

“I got done with those two rounds [and] I said, ‘Man, you need to pass the baton. You can’t compete in this anymore… I realized that. I realized it before that, but that was really, boom, right in the face … 36 holes with him and seeing how well he played and how he just dominated what was going on.”

Nicklaus battled back issues himself in the latter half of his career. Although he can play up to three rounds at the age of 84, there was a time when the 18-time major winner barely played 18 holes. He felt that if Tiger Woods worked on his physical strength, he could elongate his career in the coming days. Now, it remains to be seen if a not-so-good Woods can prove the legendary 18-time major champion right at Valhalla this month.