New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – Nine-time major winner and World Golf Hall of Fame member Gary Player believes that world No. 1 Tiger Woods has still got what it takes to equal or eclipse Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles.
“Woods is so talented and so dedicated. I think he’s got a great chance of passing Jack Nicklaus. Five majors is a lot,” Player said in an interview with ESPN.com.
“He’ll play in another 40 majors at least as long as his knee stands up, and as long as he’s healthy. We never know what’s around the corner. But all things being equal, I think that he’s got a great chance of doing it,” he added.
Player said multiple changes in coaches over the years probably haven’t helped Woods’ hopes of major No. 15.
“The fact that he’s had different coaches giving him different swing thoughts [hurts him],” Player said. “When you change your swing to that degree, even as talented as you are, it takes time to get the muscle memory and to have it work under pressure.”
During the interview, Player also weighed in on Woods’ rules infractions this year, Rory McIlroy’s struggles and a possible one-in-three rule on the PGA Tour.
Player described Woods’ third shot at the par-5 15th hole during the second round of this year’s Masters as the “most unlucky thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“[Tiger] hits the most perfect shot,” Player said. “It’s coming in there soft. You can see the flag. If it hits, it’s going to be like 4 feet from the hole. If he hit a bad shot, I mean a real bad shot with a sand wedge 20 feet from the hole, I reckon he would have won the Masters.”
Even though some critics thought Woods should have withdrawn from the tournament after the controversial ruling, Player disagreed.
“I don’t think Tiger did anything wrong whatsoever,” he said.
Player also didn’t back down from his comments earlier this year about what kind of woman would be right for McIlroy, who is dating tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
“If you’re a young man like Rory, you can’t play with worries,” Player said. “You can’t have managerial problems, you can’t have women problems. You’ve got to be out there and have a free mind.”
When asked about top players cutting back their schedules, ala Steve Stricker in 2013, Player said he is proponent of implementing the so-called one-in-three rule.
“I think a pro should try to make a point, which we tried to do, if you didn’t play in this tournament this year, in the next three years, you try to play in that tournament,” he said. “I think that’s something that should be introduced.”