Jack Nicklaus believes it will be “tough” for Tiger Woods to eclipse his record of 18 major victories.
Woods, 43, claimed his first major since 2008 at this year’s Masters to move within three of American Nicklaus.
But having missed the cut at the PGA Championship in May, he again failed to make the final 36 holes at The Open.
“He’s getting older – we all do that,” Nicklaus told BBC Radio 5 Live. “He’s had a lot of surgeries, those things add up.”
Asked if it was now less likely Woods will break his record, Nicklaus said: “I don’t know, probably.
“I don’t want to put down Tiger by any means, because Tiger – what a work ethic he’s got and how great he’s been. What he’s done has been fantastic, and we certainly can’t fault any of that. But it’s tough [to beat the record]. It’s tougher.”
Woods carded rounds of 78 and 70 for a six over total at Royal Portrush to miss the cut by five strokes.
The American, who has had back operations, complained of soreness and later said: “That’s one of the hardest things to accept, that as an older athlete you’re not going to be as consistent as you were at 23.”
Nicklaus said he had suspected Woods was “not feeling well”.
“You don’t go in to the Open Championship, particularly the last major of the year, and not really have played very much golf, and not prepared,” the 79-year-old added.
“That’s not Tiger. So he had to be hurting. And when he’s hurting, that’s got to affect his swing, it’s going to affect him mentally, and he’s going to struggle from it.
“Whatever he does in the future, golf-wise, is probably really not that important. What’s more important is that he’s healthy, and what golf he does play he enjoys.”
‘New schedule will work against Tiger’
The major schedule changed this year as the PGA Championship moved to May, meaning all four Championships are played between April and mid-July.
“I think it will work against Tiger – unless he’s really healthy,” Nicklaus said.
“I don’t like the new major schedule, from the stand point that if you have an injury, or if you’re struggling with one tournament, all of a sudden the other one follows too closely, to get it back.
“I’m not sure that that’s really a good thing for the game of golf, to have all your tournaments in about three and a half months. And I don’t think it’s good for the other tournaments on the Tour.
“The guys have got to skip a lot of tournaments – you saw that this year – guys weren’t playing in between majors. And I think that’s a shame for the Tour.
“I know that the all-mighty dollar is important, but I don’t think it’s so important that you really lose out on the tradition of the great tournaments that have been played for years and years and years.”
‘I thought Shane Lowry would be a pretty good dark horse’
Irishman Shane Lowry captured the final major of 2019, delighting home supporters with his six-stroke victory at Royal Portrush.
Lowry had a four-shot lead going into the final round – as he did at the 2016 US Open when he closed with a 76 to finish three shots behind Dustin Johnson.
This time, while his challengers fell away in the difficult conditions, the 32-year-old calmly recorded a 72 to finish on 15 under.
“I thought Shane Lowry would be a pretty good dark horse for somebody to pick,” Nicklaus said. “He’s Irish, he’s won over there, he’s won on that golf course.
“I’m sure that Shane figured why he had lost at Oakmont and he figured out what he had to do and did it at Portrush. And that will serve him well in the future.
“Shane’s a good friend, we all like Shane down here, he’s a member of our Bear’s Club at home. I was very happy for him. I was rooting the whole way coming down the stretch for him to play well.”
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