Stock photo of June 3, 2012 shows Jack Nicklaus, left, and Tiger Woods chatting after Woods won the Memorial Golf tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Tony Dejak, AP Photo Archive

Jack Nicklaus says he was “painting a portrait” after a practice round with Tiger Woods at the 1996 Masters. He then said Woods had the skill to win at least 10 green jackets.

On Sunday, in the Honda Classic tournament, he referred to Woods as an “enigma”.

In an interview before appearing in the NBC Sports broadcast booth, Nicklaus was talking about the growing number of young players who can win major tournaments. He said “they have the opertunity to win because Woods was no longer dominant while recovering from a long list of injuries”.

“And now, I do not know about Tiger,” Nicklaus said. “It’s the biggest enigma I know, I just do not know where he is and where his mind is, I do not know.”

Woods failed to overcome the cut at Torrey Pines in his 2017 debut, then flew half the world to Dubai and left the tournament with spasms in the back after 77 strokes. Woods retired from the Genesis Open in Riviera, which is organized by his foundation, and this week’s Honda Classic.

He canceled an interview in Riviera, and his agent said “doctors advised Woods to limit all activities”.

Nicklaus referred to a statement by Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg said at a press conference that he would not provide answers to his health.

“I think he’s absolutely right,” Nicklaus said. “They will ask exactly the same questions, they will be exactly the same answers he had given before. I think from his point of view, he is tired of answering them.”

Nicklaus and Woods have been linked for a long time, from the time that Woods posted in his room a chart showing the timeline of Nicklaus various historical achievements in golf, mainly as an amateur player. As a pro, Woods set the pace to break Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles to his fourth knee surgery in 2008 after the United States Open, his 14th and a major major’s final.

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