Although Jack Nicklaus is infinitely wise about golf, not even he knows what’s keeping Tiger Woods off the links.
Nicklaus told United Press International on Wednesday that he doesn’t know why Woods hasn’t yet returned to competitive golf. Woods withdrew from the 2016 PGA Championship and announced Tuesday that he’ll sit out the rest of the PGA season, as he recovers from back surgery and other longstanding ailments.
“I’ve kept up with it and I’ve had a couple texts back and forth, but we haven’t really talked,” Nicklaus said. “He’s struggling. I don’t understand what he is struggling with, but I know he is struggling and he would be playing if he could play.”
Woods hasn’t participated at a PGA event since last August. He has undergone two back surgeries since then and missed the last four major tournaments.
Woods trails only Nicklaus for most career major championships — 14 to 18. Nicklaus can’t explain the issues that have stalled Woods’ pursuit of his record.
“I think he’s so talented and still relatively young in relation to the game of golf, that I still think he’s got a very good shot at doing it,” Nicklaus said. “I’ve never had a situation like that. I obviously don’t understand it because I haven’t been in the middle of it. You don’t know what’s going through somebody’s head when they’ve been injured as long as he’s been injured.”
Nicklaus, 76, has strolled through some of the most exclusive golf clubs in the last four decades. But he now belongs to the same union of golf fans who simply can’t fathom why Woods has fallen from the peak of the sport and shows no sign of climbing back in that direction.
Welcome to the club, Golden Bear.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images