Jack Nicklaus said he understands the struggle Tiger Woods is having with his back.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Jack Nicklaus knows Tiger Woods. Jack Nicklaus also knows what back problems can do to a golfer's ability to compete.
That makes Nicklaus, the architect of Valhalla Golf Club, the perfect guy to discuss the challenges that Woods faces as he decides whether to play in the 96th PGA Championship. Woods is still scheduled to tee off at the No. 10 hole at 8:35 a.m. Thursday but he has yet to be seen at the course.
Nicklaus, for one, hopes that Woods is there to join Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington in their threesome. That is what Nicklaus told ESPN radio Wednesday morning.
“I'd like to see him out there competing,” Nicklaus said. “I know he's waiting until tomorrow to find out whether he can play or not. I certainly hope he's feeling all right and that he can play.”
Nicklaus was relatively healthy throughout his marvelous career, while winning 18 major titles, four more than Woods. But Nicklaus said you will notice something if you compare photographs of him in his prime against his stature today.
“I was basically 6 feet tall when I was playing golf,” Nicklaus said. “I'm now 5-8. I lost four inches because I don't have any discs any more. I just wore them out playing golf.
“Obviously that reduces my flexibility, reduces everything. Everybody else goes through the same thing. Golf is a tough sport on your body even though it's not a contact sport, it's still a tough sport on your body.
“As you get older, it just makes it all that more difficult.
“Actually, I was pretty injury free. I withdrew from two tournaments and they weren't until I was in more 40s. That was because of my back.
“I think it's a combination. As you get older, it's harder to keep your flexibility in any sport. To keep your quickness. So you work harder to try to do that. And when you work harder sometimes you cause injuries. Or the sport itself just causes injuries.”