Tiger Again Aims To Thrive On A Nicklaus Layout

by
Reuters
In the eyes of many, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are inextricably linked as the greatest players of all time and it is probably no surprise that Woods has made a habit of flourishing on Nicklaus-designed courses.

Tiger Woods

In the eyes of many, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are inextricably linked as the greatest players of all time and it is probably no surprise that Woods has made a habit of flourishing on Nicklaus-designed courses.

This week, Woods is back in the leafy surrounds of Muirfield Village Golf Club for the Memorial Tournament where he is a five-times winner and defending champion at the elite PGA Tour event hosted by Nicklaus.

"I've always played Nicklaus courses well," world number one Woods told reporters on Wednesday after playing in the pro-am competition at Muirfield Village.

"I've won on quite a few, whether it was in junior golf, college and now professional golf. For some reason, I just feel comfortable in his golf courses, the way he sets it up.

"There is ample room off the tees. The greens are really severe. If you miss the greens, it tests your short game. Those are the things that I think I do well."

Asked if he gained any particular insight into Nicklaus the player when he competed on Nicklaus-designed layouts, Woods replied: "Jack always was one of the best course managers that's ever lived - how he managed not just the emotions but the golf course and the strategy behind how he played it.

"He gives you options and shots to shape to play his courses. If you don't hit the ball in the right spot, you can get penalised. He played very disciplined and at times he was very aggressive, but those were at the right times.

"And he gives you opportunities to do that, the way he designs golf courses, you can be aggressive but you have to be disciplined and put the ball in certain spots."

MASSIVE UNDERSTATEMENT

To say that Woods will tee off in Thursday's opening round in a confident mood would be a massive understatement, the 14-times major winner having triumphed four times in just seven starts on the 2013 PGA Tour.

"I'm looking forward it," smiled Woods, who has not competed since clinching his 78th victory in his 300th career start on the U.S. circuit at the Players Championship three weeks ago.

"I played really well the last tournament at the Players. It's been a nice two weeks off but now it's time to get out and play, and come to an event that I've always loved playing.

"I got a chance to come here as an amateur and watch a little bit. To have Jack be a part of this event with what he has done for the game of golf and to come here and support him has been fantastic for me and lot of the players."

Woods, who has not won a major title since his remarkable playoff victory at the 2008 U.S. Open, played a practice round on Tuesday in atrocious weather conditions at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, venue for the June 13-16 U.S. Open.

"I did not have an inkling that it was going to be as long as it was," Woods said of the classic, 6,846-yard layout which has long been regarded as too short to host a major.

"It was raining sideways and it was just an ugly day. We played it as probably long as it will ever be played.

"In June, obviously the weather won't be like that. It will be hotter, the ball will be flying, the clubs will be different, but the lines (off tees) will be the same."

Woods, who has long targeted the record 18 major titles accumulated by Nicklaus, will take next week off before he travels to Merion for the second major of the year.

Consequently, his focus at this week's Memorial Tournament will be split between his bid for another PGA Tour title and continuing his U.S. Open preparations.

"It's about playing well, hopefully winning the event and carrying that confidence into the Open," the 37-year-old American said.

"I've won it in the past, I'm defending this year and I'm looking forward to the next four days."