Jack Nicklaus thinks Tiger Woods will break through, but he 'needs to learn how to win again'

Augusta. Pebble Beach. Torrey Pines.

Some of America’s greatest golf courses are among the courses where Tiger Woods has left his mark over his storied career.

Muirfield Village, the site of this week’s Memorial Tournament, is among those spots that Woods built his legend. Tournament host, course designer and 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus told reporters on Tuesday that he believes that Woods can win this week, but needs to jump a mental hurdle as the next step in his comeback.

“We all have to learn how to win again,” Nicklaus said. … “He has got to get through the barrier of not having done it for a while. When you haven’t won that always happens, and that’s human nature.

“But when you got a guy that’s as good as he is and as competitive as he is, he’ll break through that barrier. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Tiger win this week, not at all. I think he’s playing well, I think he loves the golf course; he’s always played well here and his [memories] of what he’s done here will come back into his head. That will help him play better.”

Tiger Woods has history of success at Muirfield

Woods has won the Memorial five times, with his most recent victory at Muirfield coming in 2012. Woods hit one of the most dramatic shots of his career en route to victory that Sunday, a flop shot on 16 that Nicklaus called the “most unbelievable, gutsy shot” he’d ever seen. The victory was Woods’ 73rd on the PGA tour, tying him on the all-time wins list with Nicklaus. 

Woods has not played the Memorial since 2015, where he made the cut but finished in last place by eight strokes after a career-worst round of 85 on Saturday.

Woods will tee off Thursday with defending Memorial champion Jason Dufner and world No. 3 Justin Rose.

Nicklaus calls Woods’ comeback ‘amazing’

Woods has shown signs of breaking through this year after multiple disappointing comeback bids following spinal fusion surgery, divorce and struggles with addiction. He rallied over the weekend at The Players Championship for an 11th-place finish in his most recent tournament in addition to a pair of top-five finishes on tour this season.

“I never thought he would play again after the fusion,” Nicklaus said. “I’m not a doctor but I never dreamed you could fuse somebody and they could go play golf. It’s amazing.

“I don’t think Tiger’s had a lot of fun the last 10 years. I would hate to have been through what he’s been through, because he’s been through a lot. Addiction can happen to anyone, [especially] with all the meds he had for pain. [He has] come back from that and got his game and his life in shape, quickly.”

Nicklaus believes his majors record still in jeopardy

Nicklaus also said he believes Woods, who has 14 major titles, is still capable of catching him for golf’s greatest career milestone.

“He is a tough competitor, he’s a hard worker and he’s still driven, that’s why I’ve never counted him out,” Nicklaus said.

“I still think he’s got a shot at breaking my record.”

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