Nicklaus had a sterling 17-8-3 record in six Ryder Cups, while Woods is just 5-10-2 in four events, including two losses Friday.
'I don't put a whole lot of stock in Ryder Cup records,' Nicklaus said in a phone interview. 'I think Tiger is far more focused when he plays a U.S. Open or a Masters, and rightfully so.'
Nicklaus said he thoroughly enjoyed his Ryder Cup experience, which included being captain in 1983 and '87, but said majors are where a player's career is made or broken.
'They are the most important things in golf,' Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus won a record 18 majors, and Woods has plenty of time to win the 10 more he needs to match that mark.
'When you look at Stewart Cink, who is playing in his first Ryder Cup, or Jay Haas, who could be playing in his last, they may get more focused because it hasn't been their norm,' he said. 'Tiger knows he's the best player in the world and he knows he'll be back again. There's a little difference in how guys look at it.'
Woods has been compared to Nicklaus his entire career, and it's no different when it comes to the Ryder Cup.
Woods had another tough day at Oakland Hills. He and partner Phil Mickelson, the Americans' two big guns, lost to Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington in better-ball and to Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood in alternate shot.
Nicklaus said he normally wouldn't remember how he fared at the Ryder Cup, but he had a little help Friday.
'I read it in the paper this morning,' Nicklaus said.
The Golden Bear was speaking from New York, where he was preparing for the Jack Nicklaus Heart and Stroke Challenge, a golfing event held to raise awareness for cardiovascular fitness.
U.S. captain Hal Sutton made good on his promise to play every one of his players on the first day. European captain Bernhard Langer was not as diplomatic.
First-timers Paul Casey, David Howell and Ian Poulter were on the sidelines for both the morning and afternoon matches Friday.
That was by design. Langer said he wanted the three rookies to watch the action on their first day to soak up the pressure-packed environment.
'I wanted them to experience the atmosphere, watch the guys in action, see how the course plays,' Langer said. 'I think they had a great day of getting more experience and will be ready for tomorrow.'
All three will play in four-ball on Saturday morning.
Poulter is partnered with Darren Clarke, and Casey and Howell will play together.
Paul McGinley was the only European who played better ball in the morning but didn't return for alternate shot in the afternoon. Thomas Levet took his place.
'Some have to sit out,' Langer said. 'You can only play eight out of 12. Some have to sit out and they'll see some action sooner or later.'
Fellow rookie Luke Donald, who played two matches Friday, worried the layoff would make his teammates a little rusty.
'It's going to be hard for some of the guys who didn't play today to go out there,' Donald said.
Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke weren't fazed when they were paired against the Americans' top duo of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
They've done this before.
Westwood and Clarke were the opponents the last time the United States paired its best two players for the Ryder Cup: Woods and David Duval at Brookline in 1999.
Westwood and Clarke won that match five years ago, and did it again on Friday, rallying for a 1-up win.
'We didn't think about it when we first went out, but we talked about it when we finished,' Clarke said. 'The truth is, we can play a little bit. We're not easily intimidated by anybody.'
While fellow U.S. Ryder Cup rookie Chris Riley had a strong showing in his debut, Chad Campbell struggled.
Campbell and Davis Love III were dominated in a 5-and-4 loss to Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Campbell missed three straight birdie putts on Nos. 3, 4 and 5 as the Americans fell behind by three holes in the early going.
'It would have been nice to get at least two out of the three, but I really just didn't putt that well,' Campbell said. 'It's not easy out there.'
BIRD'S EYE VIEW
The gallery reached 20-deep in some places along the first hole for the highly anticipated match between Americans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Europeans Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington.
While many complained of having trouble seeing the action amid the huge crowds, Paul Davis didn't see what all the fuss was about.
The 6-foot-11 center for the Michigan State basketball team was in the middle of the pack on No. 1, but had a clear view of the play.
'It's perfect,' said Davis, who came to Oakland Hills with his father. 'It's like getting a VIP ticket. I didn't realize Tiger was so short.'
Retired basketball star and golfing aficionado Michael Jordan was at Oakland Hills on Friday, walking the course with several Americans and supporting them from the stands.
Jordan had dinner with the team Tuesday night, giving the Americans a pep talk.
Jordan wouldn't get into specifics about his conversation, but he made one thing abundantly clear -- he's not doubting Tiger Woods this weekend.
'Don't worry about Tiger,' he said.
'If anyone told me, 'You're going to lead 6-1 at the end of the day, I would have sent a very strange look at them.' -- European Darren Clarke.
Jay Haas is the 11th U.S. player -- 21st overall -- to compete in Ryder Cups in three or more decades. Haas has played in 1983, 1995 and 2004. American Raymond Floyd and European Dai Reese lead the category with appearances in four decades. ... Faces in the crowd included former President Bush and ex-Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly.
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