PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Jack Nicklaus doubts his lead in career Grand Slam titles will last – he figures it’s just a matter of time before Tiger Woods’ slump ends.
Woods hasn’t won a tournament since he became immersed in a sex scandal in November 2009, and he’s stalled at 14 major titles, four shy of Nicklaus’ record.
“I still think he’ll break my record,” Nicklaus said Wednesday before playing a round in the Honda Classic pro-am. “I’m surprised that he has not bounced back by now. He’s got such a great work ethic. He’s so determined to what he wants to do.”
Nicklaus said he hasn’t talked to Woods since last June, and that conversation was brief.
“He got maybe off the track, but I think he’s really a principled kid,” Nicklaus said. “Did he have some wayward … ? Yes. But are we all perfect? No.”
Woods isn’t playing Honda, a tournament he has skipped every year since 1993. Last week, he was eliminated in the first round of the Match Play Championship, and he has failed to crack the top 20 in his three tournaments this year.
Nicklaus recalled the worst slump of his career in 1979-80. He missed the cut in an event just before the U.S. Open, then rediscovered his winning touch at Baltusrol.
“I shot 63 the first round and missed a little putt on the last hole for 62,” Nicklaus recalled. “All of a sudden I said, ‘Hey, you know, maybe this is my time to start doing it the right way again.’ And all of a sudden your mind turns around.
“You just keep working at it and you keep doing things, and all of a sudden, something happens that kicks in. And I think that’s what will happen with Tiger.”