Jack on Tiger: “He looked very good”
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Jack Nicklaus

Tiger Woods told the world earlier this week that his rehab from back surgery was “progressing nicely.” Jack Nicklaus, who hosted potential U.S. Ryder Cup team members at his home on Thursday evening, echoed what others who were present have said about Woods — he looks good. 

Woods, who has committed to being one of Captain Davis Love III’s assistants, attended the gathering. After all, he only lives up the road a few miles.

“He says he was feeling good and he was feeling great and he was able to stand over a putt and chip now without having any leg pain and so forth,” said Nicklaus on Sunday.  “I just, you know, we didn’t really talk a whole lot about it.  Wished him well.  We talked a little bit about — he doesn’t have a timetable for returning or anything else.”

Nicklaus held a press conference for nearly an hour during the final round of the Honda Classic, as he is involved with the tournament’s charitable component.

“He looked very good,” said the 18-time major champion. “He looked very healthy.  And he really misses playing.  So that’s good.”

Nicklaus said he and Woods discussed a couple of topics, but per usual, Nicklaus once again said that he hopes the 14-time major champion can continue his attempt to break his all-time career majors record.

“I’ve told Tiger many times and I told him again the other night, I said, ‘You know, Tiger, you know, and you and I have talked about it, nobody wants their records to be broken, but I don’t want you not to have the ability to have that opportunity to do so by your health.

“‘So I wish you well and I hope you get healthy, hope you get to play, hope you get out there as soon as you feel like you can play, and I hope you do well.”

Despite Woods turning 40 recently, Nicklaus doesn’t think that will be a hindrance to his level of play.

 “Sure, he’s 40 years old,” he said.  “I did pretty well when I was 40.”

Nicklaus, who is 76, won two major championships when he was in his 40s, including his last at the 1986 Masters (yes, we’re coming up on the 30th anniversary!).

Nicklaus also said the other Ryder Cup hopefuls enjoyed Woods’ company the other evening.

“He looked great and he was in great spirits,” said Nicklaus. “The guys enjoyed having him at the dinner.  We had a lot of nice back and forth about how to play golf and this and that and so forth.  It was a very, very nice evening. I hope the guys enjoyed it.”

Captain Love organized the gathering as an early team bonding event for the Americans, inviting the top 40 in Ryder Cup points standings to attend and get to know each other. (There were a lot of new faces.) The guys had the opportunity to ask Nicklaus — who is great at holding court — questions Thursday as the media did Sunday. However, the golfing legend isn’t so sure how much his influence will have on the actual Ryder Cup when it comes in September.

“I don’t know, I can’t imagine how them coming over to have dinner at an old man’s house is going to help any,” said Nicklaus, laughing.

“We enjoyed having them. It was flattering.  Davis called well ahead of time and asked, and I said, ‘How many would you like to bring over?’

And he said, ‘I don’t know, somewhere between 30 and 60.’  Oh, okay, just a little small party.  Anyway, it was a very nice dinner.  It was attended by Davis, his three assistant captains, which of course is Tiger and Jim Furyk and Tom Lehman, most of the fellas who will probably contend for The Ryder Cup Team.  There were some that weren’t there.

“But what the dinner was about was I think more getting the guys together, trying to get a little bit of bonding, trying to have them pick my brain a little bit about being a past captain and past player, trying to build a little enthusiasm within the group, and I think the guys were very pleased with that.”