Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia have had issues with each other going back some 14 years but if the two PGA Tour golfers had come to verbal blows back when Jack Nicklaus was chalking up his 18 major championship titles, chances are the duo's ongoing spat would never have made it out of the locker room.
Indeed, to Nicklaus, who took to the podium Wednesday ahead of this week’s Memorial Tournament at his Muirfield Village Golf Club, the whole thing between Woods and Garcia is just plain idiotic.
“The Sergio-Tiger thing, I mean,” Nicklaus said, with a pause, “it’s stupid.”
Nicklaus, of course, referred to the headliner in what the AP’s Doug Ferguson recently termed “a contentious year in golf" that includes the debate over anchored putting and an anticipated related lawsuit, the tour acquitting Vijay Singh of doping charges and his suing the association, and the public beef between Garcia and Woods that went off the rails with overtones of racism.
To Nicklaus, who professed to know nothing about the Singh controversy, much of what has gone public was “a lot of mountains made out of molehills.”
If he and his colleagues were sore at one another for any reason, Nicklaus said, “they usually resolve it themselves,” and not in the “newspapers,” few of which covered the tour when the Golden Bear was making his bones.
“In our day, I suppose there were times when you had an issue with somebody...you never read about it because there wasn’t 20 people sitting around...to write it,” Nicklaus said. The few guys following the tour “were interested in writing about what happened, not gossip, and we didn’t have an issue with it.
“It was never an issue,” he said. “It really wasn’t.”
For sure, Nicklaus, et al, were pleased just to have their exploits even make it into the papers.
“We were trying to figure out how to get somebody to write about anything when we played,” Nicklaus said. “Today you’ve got to try to figure out how do you keep someone from writing about anything.”
To Nicklaus, golf’s landscape outside the ropes is almost unrecognizable from what it was for him and his playing partners
“It’s a different day,” he said. “Everything’s public.”