ORLANDO – The specter of Tiger Woods’ comeback has been astounding, and even Jack Nicklaus is in awe.
The Golden Bear is competing this week at the PNC Father/Son Challenge alongside grandson G.T. Nicklaus but of course the subject of Woods often comes up wherever the golfing legend is.
A year ago, Woods’ future was so uncertain. Now, he’s pulled off one year of an incredible comeback that saw him break a five-year win drought with a triumph at the Tour Championship.
Nicklaus’ thoughts on that victory?
“He won that tournament very nicely and played well,” Nicklaus said. “I think it’s a big monkey off of his back, I think it’s good for the game. I was very happy for him.”
Nice words and it’s good to see an 18-time major champion give props to a 14-time major winner.
But Nicklaus often offers thoughtful and deep answers, and his comments on Woods went beyond his support of his title. Nicklaus reiterated that how Woods has played in his comeback has surprised him, and he described why in nice detail:
“I think his swing is much better now than it ever was. The reason for that is Tiger was very much up and down with his head and I think that put a lot of pressure on his back.
The fusion that he had, obviously was something he didn’t want but it was something he needed. … I didn’t think he would ever play golf as well as he’s playing.
I never dreamed that he would play quite as well as he has and that the operation actually leveled out his head and leveled out his swing.”
If Nicklaus’ dissection of Woods’ motion is to be trusted (and uhh, why wouldn’t it be considering the man’s record in this game), it’s possible Woods is just scraping the surface of his potential in this comeback.