Jack Nicklaus believes Tiger Woods could still pass his record of 18 major titles despite not having played competitively for the past 16 months.
Woods makes his latest return to action at Thursday’s Hero World Challenge.
The 40-year-old won the last of his 14 majors at the 2008 US Open.
“I’ve always thought that he’s got at least another 10 years of good competitive golf in front of him, if he’s healthy and as talented as he is,” Nicklaus told BBC Sport.
“I don’t think anything is safe.”
Woods has recovered from multiple back surgeries and says that he is, at last, ready to compete again. But Nicklaus believes the prolonged absence was as much a mental issue as down to physical problems.
“I’ve talked to Tiger a reasonable amount in the last year or so,” said Nicklaus. “He keeps saying he is fine, he looks good, he’s ready to play, yet he hasn’t come back to play.
“That probably is the five inches between his ears that is the part that he’s having trouble with.
“And has got to re-evaluate that and find out what’s going to happen to him and how can he mentally get himself back into the idea of playing golf again.
“I think Tiger has got the physical and the mental ability to be able to handle that but then he has got to go out and do it. We’ll see, I wish him well.”
The 76-year-old, who was speaking after appearing at the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Florida, insisted golf has not suffered during Woods’ absence.
“While Tiger’s been gone I think we’ve had a pretty good run of a lot of very good young players who have come forward,” Nicklaus said.
“Golf is not on one person’s shoulder any more. It would be nice to have Tiger come back and play well, I think he’d be great for the game of golf and he’s got some great competition with the young guys out there today.
“Even a couple of the old guys have played pretty well, you know Phil Mickelson [who is 46] hasn’t exactly disappeared.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/38152128