Not even Tiger Woods is bigger than the sport itself and golf will continue to prosper with or without its marquee star, says 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.
"It's not all about one person," said 'Golden Bear' Nicklaus in Hawaii on Friday. "The game is a big game."
Nicklaus has said previously he expects Woods to eventually break his major championship record, but admits even if it doesn't happen, the sport will always have a strong worldwide popularity.
"Tiger always has been a big influence on the game," said Nicklaus, who is four major titles ahead of Woods. "But the game had Bobby Jones, the game had Walter Hagen, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Nicklaus.
"The game always survived that; it will continue to go forward. Tiger is a big influence, probably the largest one we ever had. And certainly, we hope he comes back and plays."
Nicklaus said this year would be crucial to Woods as three of the four majors are on courses where he has had success in the past [Augusta, Pebble Beach, St Andrews].
"If Tiger is going to pass my record, this is a big year for him in that regard," said Nicklaus, who turns 70 later this month. "Certainly, this year with where the majors are ... he basically owns all three places. If he doesn't play this year, the chore will be a little tougher."
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