Jack Nicklaus on Tiger and Pavin

by Jeff Skinner

The PGA Tour rolls into Muirfield Village for Jack’s special week that he calls The Memorial Tournament.  Nicklaus has nurtured his tournament into one of the top tournaments on the PGA Tour.  The players love this week because they are playing on a world class course run by a world class host.  Nicklaus makes sure everything is done right and everyone knows that The Memorial is a step or two above of the regular tour stops.

Jack has been in the news a lot lately and not just for his tournament.  Nicklaus usually reserves his comments about other golfers to a minimum but recently he has had much to say on a few subjects.

After Corey Pavin said Tiger wasn’t an automatic pick for the Ryder Cup Team unless he started to play better, Nicklaus just about called Pavin crazy.  “He’d need a brain scan he if left Tiger off the team” he said.  I can understand Jack’s position, Tiger is unique player and he will most likely earn a spot on the team.  But what was Pavin supposed to say?  Tiger has to play better, period.  Then worry about The Ryder Cup.

Nicklaus said the same thing that Pavin did; that Tiger has to play better, if he expects to catch Jack’s record of 18 majors.  “If he is going to get his game back on track he needs to do it quickly” Nicklaus said.  Jack feels that the major venues of Pebble Beach and St. Andrews are gimmie wins for Tiger if he is playing well.  “I said earlier this year if Tiger plays, and plays all the majors, I suspect he will win one or two of those.”  If he misses on all the majors this year Jack thinks his record will be just a little bit safer.

Jack also announced that he’ll host a trio of legendary golfers, which he beat to win many of those eighteen majors, to open one of his new courses.  Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller will play with Jack when he opens The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Michigan.  I want to hear Miller criticize Jack’s swing like he has Tiger’s.  I don’t think Miller would even do that, at least not while Jack is within earshot.

Each year The Memorial selects and honors a person for their contributions to the game. This year’s selection is five time major winner Seve Ballesteros.  Seve is battling cancer but has said he may play at The Open Champions Challenge event later this summer.  Seve is one of a kind and Jack is taking a moment to acknowledge his lifetime in the game.

Nicklaus is continuing his new tradition of squashing the pro-am and playing a Skins Game in its place before the tournament this year.  Two groups of five golfers each will go at it on Wednesday in The Memorial Skins Game.  These are two good looking groups:  Nicklaus will team with Phil, Sean O’Hair, Ernie Els and Kenny Perry.  Tiger, Furyk, Stricker, Zach Johnson and Rory McIlroy make up the other group.  Those guys should give us some fun golf to watch.


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