Nicklaus Defends, Takes Jab at Woods

Even the Golden Bear can't seem to stay out of the news when Tiger is the talk of the town.

According to a recent article by and friend Shane Bacon, Jack Nicklaus has decided to defend Tiger Woods in regard to the upcoming Ryder Cup and believes US Captain Corey Pavin should get a "brain scan":

"He’d (Pavin) need a brain scan if he left Tiger out of the team," Nicklaus told local reporters at the unveiling of a project to design two courses at the exclusive La Moraleja, 10 miles from the venue for this week’s Madrid Masters, the Real Sociedad Hípica Club de Campo.

"Of course he should pick Tiger. The truth is that Tiger is going through some personal problems, which I’ve nothing to say about, and he’s also got some problems with his game, which he’s going to have to resolve himself. But Tiger will be in the team, I have no doubt."

Don't get me wrong; I'm usually a pretty avid Woods-apologist when it comes to a lot of things, but what makes Jack think that Pavin "has" to pick Tiger for his Ryder Cup team? It sure can't be because of Tiger's Ryder Cup record, and it probably isn't because of how the team played last time without Woods... considering they won the Cup.

Despite his defense of the struggling golf superstar, Nicklaus also commented on whether or not Tiger will reach 18 majors in his career:

“He will be 36 next year and time starts to go. He has to win five majors. Phil Mickelson won his fourth at the Masters, but prior to that three was the next closest (active) guy.

“So Tiger has to win almost two careers (of a ‘regular’ player) in the next five or six years to do that and that is a pretty big chore.”

Without taking what Nicklaus said out-of-context, it certainly seems to me that he is an avid supporter of Tiger just as long as Woods stays #2 on the all-time Majors list.

Personally, I have never really understood the relationship between Nicklaus and Woods, especially when talking about golf records and the proverbial "passing of the torch". In fact, it almost seems as though Jack continues to struggle with cementing his legacy when being compared to players of his generation, such as Palmer, Player, and Watson. It certainly doesn't seem that Nicklaus ever wishes ill-will on the younger Woods... but it never really seems like he is fully in Tiger's corner, either.