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Jack Nicklaus believes Tiger Woods needs to return to competition if he wants to beat his record of 18 golf majors. Woods is currently taking an indefinite break from the game after he admitted to having an affair.
"If Tiger is going to pass my record I think this is a big year - if he doesn't play obviously the chore will be a little tougher", said Nicklaus.
Speculation over Woods return is mounting although no comment has been made from the player himself. However Woods former coach Butch Harmon believes the golfers return is likely to be sooner rather than later. Four tournaments, the Honda Classic, the World Golf Championships-CA Championship, the Transitions Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational are all scheduled for March in Florida, Woods home state, and would mean minimum time spent away from his family.
Nicklaus believes the lure of this year majors may be too much to resist for Woods as they are at some of his favourite courses.
"Certainly this year where (three of the four) majors are, he loves Augusta, Pebble Beach and St Andrews... he 'owns' all three of those places," said Nicklaus.
Woods has won 7 of his 14 majors at these courses winning four at Augusta, one at Pebble Beach and two at St Andrews. To add to his tally a return to competitive action in March would be required to give Woods a realistic chance of winning the first major of the year at Augusta April 6-12. Woods has endured a difficult time since news of his affair broke and has lost key sponsorship deals with Tag Heuer and Accenture. Harmon believes Wood’s still has difficult times ahead as he looks to put the damaging revelations behind him.
"The golfing public would like to see Tiger Woods do a press conference," he said. "To stand there in front of everybody, take his medicine, be humble, be embarrassed, be humiliated and answer the questions.
"If he wants to rekindle the image of who he is, this would be the best way to do it, to do the press conference because then he looks human. "He is going to look ridiculous really, with the questions that are going to be asked. But the average person would appreciate that side of him because they've never seen that.
The awkward moments look set to continue whilst on the golf course as well according to Harmon,"The difficult part, in my opinion, is going to be the heckling from the galleries. He is going to get it.
"If he plays in the Ryder Cup (in Wales in October) which I happen to think he will, that is going to be very interesting.
"But he is the strongest person mentally that's ever played our game. If there is anyone who can block out this extra stuff that is going on around him, he is probably the guy."
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