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Easier now for oldies to be goodies: Nicklaus

(China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-07 08:07
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Easier now for oldies to be goodies: Nicklaus

AUGUSTA, Georgia - Jack Nicklaus, basking in the glow of his epic 1986 Masters triumph at age 46, says older players have an easier time these days at winning Majors thanks to advances in equipment.

While recalling the last of his 18 major titles and sixth Masters crown won 25 years ago, Nicklaus said such older stars as Vijay Singh, Fred Couples and even Tom Watson at age 61 have what it takes to become the oldest major winner.

"I think it's much easier now," Nicklaus said. "Equipment has allowed golfers to extend their careers. Golf balls go so much further today. The ability of older players to not worry about the length of a golf course is better today. Guys are a little fitter.

"To think Vijay couldn't be a contender here is silly. Freddie Couples is playing well. I'd throw up my friend Watson. He can play pretty well."

Watson played a British Open for the ages as well as the aged in 2009, coming within a stroke of victory at age 59 and nine months after hip replacement surgey before losing to fellow American Stewart Cink in a playoff.

Couples, 51, was sixth at last year's Masters and led after the first round while Davis Love, who turns 47 on April 13, was a 1995 and 1999 Masters runner-up and Fiji's Singh, 48, won the 2000 Masters.

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, 47, won three times on the European Tour last year and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal is 45.

But most of the elder champions who will tee off in Thursday's first round of the 75th Masters are unlikely to become the oldest Masters champion, passing Nicklaus at 46, or oldest major winner, a mark held by Julius Boros at 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship.

Another Nicklaus mark, his career record 18 majors, is threatened by Tiger Woods, who has won 14 majors but has not won any tournament in nearly 18 months since a sex scandal erupted that led to divorce and an end to his iconic image.

"I feel bad for him. I feel bad for his family. I feel bad he got himself in that position," Nicklaus said. "We're taught to have forgiveness. I hope he gets his swing back and I wish him well."

Nicklaus said that he seldom thinks about the possibility his record might fall to Woods, adding, "I'm too busy doing too many other things."

But he still says Woods will break the mark.

"I'm sure he will get his form back on the golf course and he will pass my record," Nicklaus said. "He's still got to do it. He has got to win five more majors and that's a career for anybody else playing."

Agence France-Presse