by Jeff Skinner
When Jack Nicklaus talks the golf world listens. In an interview last week, Jack comments on how important the 2010 season is to Tiger’s quest to surpass Jack’s major record of eighteen. “If Tiger is going to pass my record, this is a big year for him in that regard,” Nicklaus is quoted as saying. Jack realizes how dominant Woods is on the courses being used for this year’s major. Believe it or not both Nicklaus and Woods have each won half of their majors on Augusta, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. In an interview with Tim Rosaforte on the Golf Channel, Nicklaus says that if Tiger doesn’t play the majors this year he will be missing a great opportunity to add to his major tally. Jack says that “if Tiger doesn’t play those three, almost gimmies for him, particularly Pebble Beach and St. Andrews, then he is going to have a harder time breaking my record.” Jack goes on to say that, “Tiger is a terrific athlete…he has his own personal problems, right now… and they are none of my business.”
Jack leaves the Tiger bashing to the rest of us, and says he “personally likes Tiger very much and wishes him well.” That’s Nicklaus: all class all the time.
Meanwhile, Tiger’s old swing coach, Butch Harmon has come out and said it is time Tiger stands up and clears the air. According to the Guardian, speaking on SKY Sports, Harmon says it’s time for Tiger to face the music and the media:
“The golfing public would like to see Tiger Woods do a press conference,” Harmon said. “To stand there in front of everybody, take his medicine, be humble, be embarrassed, be humiliated, and answer the questions. But where the hell is he? We could find Osama bin Laden easier than we can find Tiger Woods. How long can you spend on a yacht in the middle of the ocean?”
“You look at where the major venues are this year, two of his favorite venues are Pebble Beach and the Old Course at St Andrews. I think he will play in those. But, if he’s not ready to win, you won’t see him playing golf. He’s the strongest person, mentally, that’s ever played our game. If there’s anyone who can block out this extra stuff that’s going on around him, he’s probably the guy.
“The difficult part, in my opinion, is going to be the heckling from the galleries. He’s going to get it. If he plays in the Ryder Cup [in Wales in October], which I happen to think he will, that’s going to be very interesting.”
“If he wants to rekindle the image of who he is,” Harmon said, “this would be the best way to do it, to do the press conference, because then he looks human. He’s going to look ridiculous, really, with the questions that are going to be asked. But the average person would appreciate that side of him, because they’ve never seen that.
“The Tiger they see is very calculated, very focused, very involved just in golf. I’m not sure he’ll get up there and do that.
Harmon is never shy with his opinions and has been outspoken about Tiger on many occasions. He critiqued his swing changes while Tiger was rebuilding his swing under Hank Haney. Harmon coaches Phil Mickelson and has been known to shoot his mouth off before. I can’t say that I totally disagree with him. When Tiger is healed physically, mentally and matrimonially he should stand before a microphone and take some heat, at least a little and then get back to playing golf.