DUBLIN, Ohio – Jack Nicklaus only has to look at some of the clashes on the PGA Tour in recent months to see how far golf has come since he was in his prime.
That’s not necessarily a good thing.
“We were trying to figure out how to get somebody to write about anything when we played,” Nicklaus said Wednesday on the eve of the Memorial. “I think today you have to figure out how you keep somebody from writing about anything.”
Vijay Singh is suing the PGA Tour over its anti-doping policy. A small group of players has retained a lawyer over the new rule involving long putters. And the dispute getting all the attention is Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, who didn’t hide their dislike for each other until it reached a point last week that Garcia made a comment with racial overtures about Woods.
“The Sergio-Tiger thing, I mean, it’s stupid,” Nicklaus said. “Do guys have an issue one with another? They usually resolve it themselves. You guys want to resolve it in the newspapers today. Nobody needs that. And I think they both finally said, ‘It’s enough. Forget it, guys. Let’s move on.’ In our days, I suppose there were times when you had an issue with somebody and it came about. You never read about it.”
The Woods-Garcia spat turned ugly last week when Garcia was jokingly asked at a European Tour dinner outside London if he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open. Trying to go along with the sarcasm, the Spaniard said he would serve fried chicken.
Garcia apologized that night in a statement and the next day in a news conference, though he said he had been unable to reach Woods over the phone. Woods was asked Wednesday if he considered getting in touch with Garcia to hear the apology so he wouldn’t have to deal with it during a busy, important week at the U.S. Open.
What followed were his first public comments, though they were sparse.
“Was I supposed to go to Wentworth?” Woods said jokingly.
Asked if he would allow Garcia to reach him on the phone to be done with the matter before getting to Merion, Woods said, “That’s already done with.”
Did that mean Garcia apologized to him?
“Not in person, no,” he said. When asked if Woods considered Garcia’s news conference an apology, Woods said, “Move on.”
Woods made a detour to the course outside Philadelphia for his first look at Merion, which last hosted the U.S. Open in 1981. Nicklaus, who played Merion twice for a U.S. Open, said he would be surprised if a player only hit driver once or twice and won. While the middle portion of the course is short even by yesteryear’s standards, the opening and closing stretches are long and tough.
What got Woods’ attention were the winners, notably Lee Trevino and Ben Hogan.
“If you look at the list of champions, they have all been really good shot-makers,” Woods said. “They have all been able to shape the golf ball. … They are very disciplined players. You play to certain spots. You play to certain spots on the greens. You leave yourself certain putts and you deal with it and you move on.”