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May 31, 2011

Unlike Tiger, Nicklaus didn't deal with injuries

Woods DUBLIN, Ohio -- Tiger Woods should be here at the Memorial Tournament preparing to try to win his fifth title at Muirfield Village. Instead he's back home nursing his injured left knee and Achilles’ tendon, and trying to get healthy for the U.S. Open in two weeks.

Woods's injured knee is now seen as the major obstacle standing between him and Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 majors. But what kind of injuries did Nicklaus encounter on his way to the record books? Well, very few, according to the Golden Bear, who spoke to the media Tuesday morning at the Memorial, the event he hosts every year just outside his hometown, Columbus.

"I had one operation when I was playing," Nicklaus said. "I had it in 1984 when I had hurt my left knee, but I hurt my left knee playing tennis, but I was 44 years old when I did it. I went and had it operated on, and I won the Skins Game 17 days later, so it obviously wasn't a very major operation."

Nicklaus would win his final major two years later at the 1986 Masters.

Nicklaus said his swing never caused an injury. Nicklaus credited his rhythmic swing and the equipment of the day with keeping him off the DL. With better fitness and lighter clubs, today's players swing faster and harder than those from Jack’s generation.

"I think Tiger's swing, and I think a lot of the swings of today, are far more violent at the ball than some of the old swings," Nicklaus said. "Some of the old swings were far more rhythmic. I don't think a lot of the swings today are as rhythmic as the old swings. I don't think the game is the same game from that standpoint. The game today is far more an upper body game, and we used to play more from the ground up."

For the third time in six years, Woods won't be teeing it up at Muirfield Village. Woods, who won the Memorial in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2009, called Nicklaus on Friday to tell him his injured knee was still not ready for competition.

"I told Tiger when I was on the phone with him, which is the same thing I've said to him a thousand times, ‘Tiger, nobody ever wants records to be broken,’" Nicklaus said. "That's obvious. I mean, I don't care who it is. But I certainly don't want you not to be healthy and not have the opportunity to play to break records. I want you to get yourself healthy, do what you have to do to go play, get your golf game back in shape, and I wish you well, wish you good luck, which I would say that to any athlete and anybody, because I think that's the way it should be."

(Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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