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Celebration of Palmer brings questions about Tiger

Nicklaus Says Tiger Will Break His Record

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Arnold Palmer never had an easy time winning majors until the last one.

This is the 50th anniversary of Palmer going wire to wire in the 1964 Masters to win by six shots, giving him a record four green jackets. It was his seventh major, significant because it tied him with some of the greats in the game: Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead. Two more and he could have tied Ben Hogan. Four more majors would have put him alongside Walter Hagen.

Palmer was only 34. He was the King. He was on a roll, winning roughly one of every three majors.

He never won another one.

"Well, of course you never think you're going to be at your last stop," Palmer said last week. "But it was great. I suppose that psychologically I had accomplished maybe more than I even realized by winning the Masters and walking up the 18th hole comfortably. That was something that was truly great for me."

Tiger Woods was 32 when he won his last major.

Through all these years, Woods has only been linked with Jack Nicklaus when the conversation turns to the majors. They are the only players to win the career Grand Slam three times over. The endless chatter is whether Woods will break the Nicklaus benchmark of 18 majors.

Is it even remotely possible that Woods, much like Palmer, already has won his last major?

Palmer went on to win 19 more times on the PGA Tour. He should have won at least one major and could have won more. Palmer famously lost a seven-shot lead on the back nine of Olympic Club in the 1966 U.S. Open, and then was beaten by Billy Casper in a playoff. He had close calls in 1964 and 1968 at the PGA Championship, the one major that kept him from a career Grand Slam.

Unlike Woods, he wasn't the best in the world when he stopped winning majors.

Woods captured his 14th major in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. That was six years ago, and so much has happened since, on and off the golf course. The knee surgery. The collapse of his marriage and change in his appeal. Another swing change under a third coach. More injuries.

And he no longer seems to make clutch putts, which might be worse than an injury.

Woods has won 14 times, two Jack Nicklaus awards as PGA Tour player of the year and one FedEx Cup title since his last major. He is still No. 1, not only in the world ranking but in the eyes of his peers.

Speculation about his future in the majors is fueled by this being the golden anniversary of Palmer's last major at Augusta National, and the fact Woods isn't here. He had surgery last week on his back to relieve a pinched nerve that has been bothering him for longer that he cares to reveal.

Woods won't return until this summer. No telling how many more majors he will miss before he is healthy enough to compete at a high level. His age suggests he is in his prime, but add five surgeries to those 38 years and he seems older.

It's foolish to suggest Woods won't win another major. If nothing else he can win one just as easily as Justin Rose did at the U.S. Open or Jason Dufner did at the PGA Championship - not because of who they are or what they were ranked, but simply because they are very good players and it happened to be their week.

Phil Mickelson won a British Open last year when he was 42. Yes, Woods can win another major and probably will.

But there was a time when "probably" wasn't part of the equation.

"I probably would have put every last dollar I had on the gamble that he would break Jack's record pre-2009," Graeme McDowell said. "Now, slightly longer odds. I'm not quite sure I'd put every dollar I had on it now."

McDowell has seen enough of Woods and the shots he could hit to never rule him out. But he has a good eye for the landscape. McDowell believes 30 percent of the challenge for Woods will be physical and the other 70 percent will be the field. The competition has never been this deep.

What made it tougher on Palmer, more than anything, was the arrival of Nicklaus.

There is no one like Nicklaus - other than Woods, of course - in today's game. Rory McIlroy is the best player in golf when he puts his game all the way back together. But that would be comparing a 24-year-old McIlroy with a 38-year-old Woods who will be coming off the disabled list this summer for the second time in three years.

Callaway, which sponsors Palmer, had made up special golf bags for its players this week with a crown on the side as a tribute to the King and the 50th anniversary of his last Masters. Is it possible that Nike will be doing the same for Woods at the 2058 U.S. Open?

Join the discussion

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Rich April 09 2014 at 3:20 AM

I loved Tiger pre marital problems. He is still one of the best players today. Will he beat Jack's record. NOPE, Why I have played a lot of golf for the last 37 years. Want to know why he won't beat Jack. Putting. He's lost his touch. He never missed a putt inside 10 feet. Nowadays he misses a lot of putts inside 5 feet., Plus he can't control his driver. I think he MIGHT win 2 more majors but he'll fall short of Jack's record. For all the reasons above plus stronger fields. But the main reason is KARMA. He was special. Someone kids could look up to. No more. I bet his own kids won't see him in the same light after they find out about their dad and his infidelitys. What really makes this worse was he didn't fall out of love or fall in love with another woman. No he just wanted to have some fun with the guy's. Karma will get you. If it hasn't already. Sorry Tiger.

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1 reply
BILLMASELLI Rich April 09 2014 at 8:17 AM

I watched the drive,pitch and putt contest at augusta and they listed the role models of these young men and women who were in the contest. I didn't see woods name mentioned much. happy to see these young people have good taste in character.

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nam2205 April 09 2014 at 7:42 AM

Who cares. I'm going fishing.

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qmcsm004 April 09 2014 at 5:21 AM

Injuries are a part of any game....the test is how they overcome them and recover. I think he past personnel problems are weighing heavy on him as well as his injuries.

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Uncle D April 09 2014 at 8:43 AM

So much of golf is played in the six inches between your ears. At the pro level, it's as much a mental sport as a physical one. Believing you can make the shot - self confidence - is nearly as important as your physical skills to pull it off. With all the physical ailments, swing changes and personal failings, doubt has crept into Tiger's game. Plus, he no longer has unbridled fan support to spur him on emotionally. He'll win more tournaments. But it's unlikely that he'll win five more majors to surpass Jack.

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nitschken April 09 2014 at 7:40 AM

I grew up in the era of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and the rest.

Jack has always been the person to admire, I like Tiger, but his attitude leaves a lot to be desired. He is a good golfer but

I do not want to see his 18 majors beaten. While we are at it, and second places are forgotten, but did you know Jack was second in 19 majors. I think that alone is pretty darn good.

Besides, look at modern technology with the balls and size of the clubs. I guarantee Jack would have driven over 400 yards with them.

Let's not see that record broken

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dl0007 April 09 2014 at 7:16 AM

Jack is all about class! I don't think and hope Tiger doesn't break his record! When Jack played, different players, different time. Players HAD to cash to make expenses without endorsements! Today's golfer wins the Podunk Open and earns over $1,000,000! The first World Series of Golf in Akron in 62(?), $50,000 was 1st prize! An outrageous amount of money and the highest winner's purse to date. It was so unheard of, the 4 participants agreed to split the entire purse equally regardless where they placed! First - $50,000 Second - $15,000 Third - $7,500 Fourth $5,000!

To MOST professional athletes today, those amounts are pocket change!

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2 replies
rachel2348 dl0007 April 09 2014 at 8:18 AM

In 1962, $50,000 was probably equal in spending power to $500,000.

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fioanefet79 dl0007 April 09 2014 at 8:25 AM

Did you research how the million dollar purse came to Golf Tournaments? As far as breaking the record is concerned, The Tiger got that in his bag. As Jack says, he will be a fool if he says otherwise. Enjoy the journey with some TUMS.

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Jerry April 09 2014 at 6:22 AM

It will never happen. Tiger's lost his edge and may win one or two more, but will not win five more majors, or even four to tie. If he manages to get healthy (mentally as well as physically) he may be a force to contend with on the course, but he'll never be as competative as he was. We all slow down as we age. Thanks for all the memories Mr. Woods!

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jdb10716 April 09 2014 at 6:57 AM

You might say Tiger is in a slump. A six year slump and counting.

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wajguy April 09 2014 at 12:29 PM

Unlike Woods, he wasn't the best in the world when he stopped winning majors.

Woods is history - he will win a few more but not overpower anyone.

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Rogell April 09 2014 at 10:44 AM

I believe Jack has it about right. That is, Tiger could conceivably win another major, and I suspect he will...

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