With Tiger Woods' sabbatical now poised to stretch into the spring, questions remain as to what the former world No. 1 will need to do to return to his former glory. According to Jack Nicklaus, the man whose major championship record he chases, the issue for Woods is mental, not physical.
"Tiger's struggling, I don't think there's any question about that. We all know that, he knows that," Nicklaus said Friday on "Morning Drive." "I think he's struggling more between his ears than he is any place else."
Woods has struggled mightily around the greens in each of his last three starts, and he has not played since withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open because of a back injury. He announced Thursday that he would be skipping next week's Honda Classic, and he will not be eligible for the WGC-Cadillac Championship the following week as a result.
Nicklaus explained that he went through a similar short-game struggle in 1979, which he termed the worst year of his career.
"I was actually putting it around bunkers. I couldn't chip it," he said. "I was terrible, I was just awful."
The answer for Nicklaus came in the form of a short-game tip from former PGA Tour winner Phil Rodgers, one that helped him win the U.S. Open the following year at the age of 40.
"You go through things, and you have to have a positive thing happen to you to turn it around," Nicklaus said. "That was a positive thing for me."
Woods switched instructors late last year, moving from Sean Foley to Chris Como, but Nicklaus believes that the solution to Woods' current struggles will likely come from within.
"Personally, I think he needs to figure it out himself, because a teacher can't teach what's inside your head," Nicklaus said. "You've got to be able to put that positive thought into your head yourself."
Nicklaus' total of 18 major titles remains four clear of Woods' current haul. While he has held to his belief that the 39-year-old will someday break his record, Nicklaus' answer Friday showed signs of doubt about Woods' ability to reach major No. 19.
"He's got a lot of golf in front of him, but it's going to be up to him. He's still got to do it," Nicklaus said. "He may, he may not. Obviously chances are harder for him now than they were five years ago, but I still think he has time on his side."