Jack Nicklaus speaks on Tiger Woods’ Masters win, future

THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS - MAY 04: Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus waves as he is introduced during the '3M Greats of Golf' at the Insperity Invitational at The Woodlands Country Club on May 04, 2019 in The Woodlands, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS - MAY 04: Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus waves as he is introduced during the '3M Greats of Golf' at the Insperity Invitational at The Woodlands Country Club on May 04, 2019 in The Woodlands, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Jack Nicklaus has been the measuring stick for Tiger Woods since day one. Here’s what the Golden Bear had to say about the Big Cat’s Masters win and major resurgence.

In his press conference at The Memorial Tournament, which he hosts, Jack Nicklaus was asked whether he watched Tiger Woods at this year’s Masters. Nicklaus said he watched most of the back nine in real time and the rest of the rounds as replays. Then he explained what went right and what went wrong for the competitors on the 12th.

You probably recall that Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson and Ian Poulter were the second to last tee time followed by Woods, Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau.

“I thought a lot of guys played very well. It looked as though Brooks or Molinari might win the golf tournament,” Nicklaus said.

At the beginning of the second nine on Sunday, Woods was not leading. Molinari still held the top spot. Nicklaus was out bonefishing as golfers began to work their way through Amen Corner.

Woods, Molinari and Finau got to No. 12.

Nicklaus got back to his boat, sat down and didn’t move away from the TV set until the tournament ended.

"“It was fun watching his mind work,” he said about Woods. “It was fun watching how he thought and how I thought he was thinking and how I would have thought.”"

Molinari hit his tee shot in the water at the 12th and eventually made double, giving away his lead. Others did the same. But not Woods.

"“When the guys started filling up Rae’s Creek on the 12th hole, I’m watching them one after another hit the ball right of the bunker, and I said, really? You just can’t hit the ball right of the bunker,” Nicklaus insisted.“How many times have you seen the tournament lost because they hit it right of the bunker? Tiger hit the ball, and of course he had a little cut shot over the left side of the bunker into the middle of the green, and the tournament is over.”"

Well, to Nicklaus it was over, and who can argue with his thinking when it comes to Augusta National? However, at that juncture, playing ahead of the last group, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka charged, and two or more were tied for the lead at one point as play continued.

Nicklaus stayed fixed on Woods’ round.

"“He played beautifully coming home. I knew he was in a position that he knew that he didn’t have to do anything special,” Nicklaus noted. “All he had to do was play good, solid golf. Good, solid golf still required a couple under par, but he had 13 or 15, which he played very solidly.”"

Woods birdied both of those and added one more at 16 for good measure.

Nicklaus said that when he was playing, his philosophy was to make sure he didn’t make any “dumb mistakes” and to keep himself in a position where he could win.

"“It’s how well can you score playing badly? Because you’ve got four days of tournaments,(and) you’re going to have a day where you’re not real good or not very good striking the ball,” he explained. “Learn from each day that you play and what you did and what you couldn’t do, what you could do and how you managed that.”More from Pro Golf NowGolf Rumors: LIV set to sign Masters Champion in stunning dealFantasy Golf: Grant Thornton Invitational DFS Player SelectionsBrutal return leaves Will Zalatoris looking towards 2024Stars You Know at World Champions Cup Starts Thursday at ConcessionFantasy Golf: An Early Look at the 2024 Masters Tournament"

In his prime, Nicklaus was known for steady golf, long drives, 1-irons, brilliant putting and for his focus and concentration. He probably never beat himself. ( I did not personally see all of Nicklaus’ victories!) Other golfers made unforced errors in final rounds, and Nicklaus collected the trophy. He was always there, so much so that he had 19 seconds in majors.

"“People say, well, he’ll never win another one,” Nicklaus said about Woods. “You’ve heard me say this in the press room. Don’t count him out. He won major championships hitting it all over the world off the tee. Last time he won at San Diego, Torrey Pines, yeah, he never found the fairway. And he was playing on a broken leg, which isn’t too bad, winning on a broken leg. But he didn’t — but he never has driven it really well. He’s driving the ball well now.”"

In other words, Woods hitting fairways may make him even more dangerous than ever. Nicklaus added that Woods has always been a great iron player and a good chipper.

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“He always putts well. If you had a putt to make, it’s ten feet, and you need somebody to make it, I think I’d go call Tiger. He’s that kind of a competitor,” Nicklaus said.

Does that mean major No. 16 and victory No. 82 are in the near future? Looks like Nicklaus thinks so.