Jack Nicklaus kind of chuckled at the question.
“Do I enjoy watching him chase my record?” Nicklaus said when asked about Tiger Woods closing in on his record 18 major championships.
Woods, of course, has taken the golf world by storm once again following his impressive victory at the Masters last month, and now boasts 15 majors to his name.
Nicklaus’ initial reaction?
“No,” he said, smirking. “I enjoyed the last eight years a lot more.”
That comment drew laughter from the crowd as Nicklaus spent Sunday at Dallas Athletic Club, celebrating it’s 100th anniversary.
“I don’t mean it that way,” said Nicklaus, who won his first PGA Championship in 1963 at DAC.
“I’ve talked to Tiger a lot of times through there. Nobody ever wants their records broken. Nobody wants that.
“But I’ve said, ‘Tiger, I don’t want you to not be healthy (enough) to break those records. I want you to have a fair chance of doing that.’”
Woods, 43, has battled back issues in recent years, and some thought he may never return to his previous level. But he showed in majors last season an ability to compete at the highest level, and it all came to fruition at the Masters last month.
Nicklaus, 79, knew the tournament was over after the 12th hole when Woods’ closest competitors found Raes Creek, and Woods found the center of the green.
“He saw balls fill up Raes Creek with all the other guys’ golf balls and he was smart enough to put it where you put it,” Nicklaus said. “He said, ‘I’ll take advantage of this.’ He hit a cut shot right over the middle of the bunker, the exact shape and kind of shot he should play, and he hit the ball on the green. I said, ‘The tournament is over. Tiger will remember how to play the last six holes.’
“He played 13 beautifully. Played 14 beautifully. 15 beautifully. 16 beautifully. 17. 18, I don’t know what he did with his second shot, but his third shot he put at the middle of the green at the bank in the hill where the ball wasn’t going to get away from him. That was a smart play.
“He used his talent. He used his brain. He used his ability. He used all of it and he’s got a lot of it.”
Nicklaus went on to say that Woods is good for the game of golf and provides a much-needed spark to the sport.
As far as Woods reaching his record of 18 majors and possibly passing it, Nicklaus is like everybody else. He doesn’t know what will happen other than Woods being in contention at more majors in the near future.
“Will he break my record? He’s closer to it than he was three weeks ago,” Nicklaus said with a smirk. “That remains to be seen. If his body holds together and he doesn’t have any issues, I’d say his chances of breaking my record are very good. I’ll be watching very closely.
“If he breaks it, that’s fine. I have no problems with him breaking my records. I want to be the first one to say, ‘Congratulations.’ I think my record is a pretty good record. … But (Woods) is a very talented guy. Pretty determined too.”