Greg Norman created quite a stir earlier this week when he told FoxSports.com that he felt Tiger Woods was "really intimidated" by Rory McIlroy, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman with four wins this season.
The two players, who have a friendly rivalry, played down those comments on Wednesday on the eve of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, where they are playing together in today's first round. The subject also came up during an interview Jack Nicklaus did on ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C.
“Quiet Greg, quiet," Nicklaus said. "Down boy. I think Tiger had a pretty darn good year this year. It’s the first time he has gotten himself back into contention in the majors, he didn’t finish them and I think by his own admission he said he had a hard time finishing them. That’s like anything else. He had a pretty big event in his life that changed a lot of things and he has to learn how to go back and play again. I think he’s learned how to play again, now he has to learn how to finish again. I think Tiger has a lot of wins left in him."
At the same time, though, Nicklaus went on to say that Woods has more competition than he once did. The Golden Bear noted that players like McIlroy and Keegan Bradley -- "and I could probably name a half dozen other guys," he said -- learned to win while Woods was injured and later revamping his swing.
"They’re not scared of him anymore," Nicklaus said. "Before Tiger just showed up coming down the stretch and everybody said ‘oh there’s Tiger and I wilt.’ They don’t do that anymore. Tiger’s got his work cut out for him but I don’t think Tiger is by any means finished. I just think Tiger is too good of an athlete and too good of a player.”