Jack Nicklaus still believes Tiger Woods will win at least 19 major championships before he hangs up his spikes but the Golden Bear, appearing Thursday on CNBC’s "Squawk on the Street," was not exactly effusive in his most recent role as Nostradamus.
"Well, I didn’t say I was confident [Woods would break his record of 18 major titles]," Nicklaus said from his Muirfield Village Golf Club, site of this week’s Presidents Cup. "I just expect him to."
Perhaps Nicklaus was a tad grumpy about being asked, for about the quadrillionth time, his prediction about whether his mark of 18 majors will fall to Woods, who has been stuck on 14 for five years. Or maybe it was the imbecilic way in which the interview began, after Nicklaus rang the bell, from Dublin, Ohio, to open trading for the day on the New York Stock Exchange.
"You know what they said when they found out you were ringing the bell?" Jim Cramer’s co-anchor asked Nicklaus. "People said, ‘are we in for a Golden Bear market?'"
The remark prompted an "ooph" from someone, perhaps Cramer, in the background, and this response from the Presidents Cup host:
"Oh, we don’t need that," Nicklaus replied. "Maybe the golden part of it but we can forget the other part."
Nicklaus, urged to comment on the government shutdown, said the "mess" in Washington was "probably worse" than when he opined about it as a Romney supporter during the last presidential election.
As for Woods’ chances to surpass his 18 majors, Nicklaus noted that the world No. 1 had his work cut out for him.
"Tiger, he’s a great player, he’s got a great record, and he’s going to continue to have a great record," Nicklaus said. "But there is a lot of competition today. There are probably more good players in the game today than there’s ever been."