From top left clockwise: Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa. Inset: Jack Nicklaus. Pic: Getty Images and file.
Jack Nicklaus’ opinion is the one that counts most in golf. Even on Tiger Woods. In his pre-event interview with the media at the Memorial, Nicklaus also gave is views on some of the star players, including Woods, who was making his first appearance on the PGA Tour since its ‘Return to Golf’.
On Tiger Wood and coming back after five months.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I don’t know. I’ve seen Tiger play very well after long layoffs. I used to lay off early in my career, I’d stop playing in September, and I didn’t start playing again until January. And I played nothing in between, and quite often I’d start out and then a lot of times the Crosby was my first tournament, and I won that several times. I won three times, I think.
So I won immediately coming out of a winter of not playing golf. So you never know what to expect. I don’t think Tiger will be as sharp or as ready as he normally is, but Tiger is Tiger. He’s a pretty darned good player, and my guess is he played quite a bit of golf at home, and he doesn’t want to come here and not play well and not do his best. So he’s going to give it his best.
On Justin Thomas, who lost the play-off at Workday Charity Open a week earlier, also at the Muirfield Village; and on how he should deal with the play-off loss.
JACK NICKLAUS: He won’t have any problem getting over it. He’s got his head screwed on properly and his feet on the ground. He knows that you get beat sometimes even when you play well and do the right things or even when you make a mistake. He knew he had a chance on the second playoff hole, what did he have, about an eight-footer, something like that? So he understands that. And sometimes you give your best effort and you just get beat, and that’s about what looked like happened. I think J.T. will be right there again this week.
On whether he saw the Workday Charity Open and his premature text to Justin Thomas.
How much have I seen of the guys that played last week? I had a little bit of an “oops” last week myself. We were getting up here, we scheduled our flight to get up here because I wanted to see — congratulate the winner in the locker room at 6:00, and of course then they moved up the tee times, and that didn’t work out. So we were getting on an airplane at 2:00 which is when we were coming up here, and just as we were getting ready to take off, the first hole of the playoff, Justin Thomas holes that big long putt. Well, I saw the putt. We didn’t see Morikawa’s putt.
Barbara and I both texted Justin and said to him, wow, what a fantastic putt, unbelievable fantastic super putt, can’t believe that you made that putt. Now you’ve got the chance to win two in a row. And then we got up in the air, and we picked up wi-fi after 10,000 feet, and we found out Morikawa won the tournament, and so I had to send him another text and say, Oops, a little premature.
He was good about it. He texted back and he said, All’s good, it’s okay. He was good about it.
On Bryson DeChambeau and the phenomenal distance he hits the ball to and the change in his body.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I personally have not seen him in person. I’ve seen him on television, and he’s a much bigger man. But he was tall to start with, but if he’s carrying 250 pounds, that’s a lot of weight for Bryson. But Bryson, he doesn’t look heavy, he just looks big. The places that he has been hitting the golf ball — and he’s not — Bryson’s golf swing is not a fluid golf swing that really whips the club into the ball. Bryson’s golf swing is pretty much pretty firm going back and firm coming through with a lot of body rotation. It’s a little different than a lot of guys. And can you believe the power he’s getting from that? I mean, it’s unbelievable.
You know, I for one, I want to watch a little bit, watch him play a little bit. I’d like to see what he does and how he’s actually doing that because he’s obviously doing something right. The ball is going a long way. And he’s playing well with it.
Well, on this golf course you can only go so far off the tee before you start getting in trouble. I give you a fairly generous area to hit it into if you’re going to hit it 260, 270, but if you’re beyond that point I try to make you hit the ball pretty straight. It’s going to be a combination.
On Collin Morikawa.
Morikawa, what a pretty golf swing he’s got. You know, obviously to hole that putt behind Thomas was something pretty special. But I didn’t see a lot of it.