By Peter Rutherford
INCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) – Jack Nicklaus concedes he was in a less-than-generous mood when he designed the course being used for the Presidents Cup in South Korea but is happy with recent changes to the greens and says precise putting will trump big hitting this week.
Nicklaus, a four-time captain of the biennial event which pits the United States against a team of international players minus Europeans, said he was honoured that a course bearing his name was hosting the first Presidents Cup in Asia.
Both teams have players noted for their massive distance off the tee such as Jason Day and Dustin Johnson but Nicklaus said it would be the players who negotiate the course’s huge, undulating greens that would be in the ascendancy.
“I think you’ll see some good scoring, I think putting will be more important than driving,” he told Reuters.
“They are all big hitters, they play the same courses every week and I think you need to putt the ball pretty well on this course. There’s plenty of room off the tee and I don’t believe this course is going to get hard enough to make any difference.”
Nicklaus earlier told reporters to laughter that changes had been made to the greens because “I made it too tough to start with.
“I think a lot of times, everybody, all designers go through cycles of when they do different things. I guess I was in my bumpy cycle when we started this. I’m in my more ‘peaceful, love golfer’ cycle right now.”
Nicklaus, who won 18 majors and is regarded as the greatest ever player, said he hoped the two team captains would be able to arrange a Sunday singles showdown between Jordan Spieth and Day, the hottest players in world golf.
He said he and his opposing Presidents Cup captains had always managed to find a way to put together the match-ups fans wanted to see, such as Tiger Woods v Ernie Els in 2003.
“We used to be able to get that done, I don’t know what they’re doing now,” he said.
“The captains here will make up their mind what they want to do. If they want to have Spieth and Day play, which I think would be a great match, they certainly have the option to do it.”
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)