Count Jack Nicklaus among those who believe Tiger Woods’ recent struggles on the golf course are mental.
“Tiger’s struggling, I don’t think there’s any question about that. We all know that, he knows that,” Nicklaus said Friday on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. “I think he’s struggling more between his ears than he is any place else.
“He’s struggled with the driver most of his life, really … . Now he’s having trouble with his short game. That is not a good combination.”
Nicklaus admitted, though, that he hasn’t watched much of Woods since Woods returned to action at the Hero World Challenge in December. “All I saw were a few replays,” Nicklaus said.
Woods’ short-game troubles, most notably his chipping, began at Isleworth, but continued in his two PGA Tour starts of 2015. Woods missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, then had to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open with a back injury, although the injury was unrelated to the microdiscectomy surgery Woods had last March.
After withdrawing from the Farmers, Woods announced on his website that he wouldn’t enter another tournament until his game was ready to compete on a high level. Then, earlier this week, Woods pulled out of the Honda Classic.
Nicklaus, who also referenced his own short-game struggles in 1979, said that he believes Woods will turn things around, but that Woods will need to do it by himself. Woods started working with swing consultant Chris Como late last year.
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“Personally, I think he needs to figure it out himself, because a teacher can’t teach what’s inside your head,” Nicklaus said. “You’ve got to be able to put that positive thought into your head yourself.”
Nicklaus added that he still believes Woods, 39, could break his record of 18 major-championship victories. Woods sits at 14.
“He may, he may not,” Nicklaus said. “Obviously, chances are harder for him now than they were five years ago, but I still think he has time on his side.”