Jack Nicklaus wasn’t consulted on Tiger Woods’ decision to open his year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in two weeks, but he can certainly understand the rationale.
“Sometimes I would go play tournaments early in the year that actually you did shoot some low scores, because I didn't feel like I was quite ready to challenge a difficult golf course,” Nicklaus said during a Wednesday teleconference with reporters. “Sometimes I would go where I could build confidence in my own game, so my guess is Tiger is going to Phoenix so he can build confidence in his own game and get some self‑confidence because he hasn't played for a long time.”
Actually, Woods competed just last month at his own Hero World Challenge, finishing T-17 in the 18-man field while struggling mightily with his short game.
While Nicklaus admitted he didn’t see anything from that event, he remained bullish on Woods’ abilities from around the green.
“I don't think Tiger's short game will go anywhere,” Nicklaus said. “Maybe it was just rusty, but that will be the strong part of his game. What Tiger has got to get back is his long game and the game between his ears.”
As he’s always been, Nicklaus also remained optimistic that Woods will return to the winner’s circle sooner rather than later.
“Tiger has had a great career, and I don't think his career is over,” he maintained. “He's had a little lull in his career, and we'll see what happens from here. I had lulls in my career, too. I had several periods where I had three and four years that I didn't win anything of a major championship, and I came back from that, and I think Tiger may do the same.”