During a press conference in advance of this week’s Memorial at Muirfield Village Golf Club, tournament host Jack Nicklaus seemed to downplay the historical value of regular PGA Tour events.
When asked to comment on Tiger Woods potentially matching Sam Snead’s record 82 PGA Tour titles, Nicklaus said, “Oh, Snead’s wins. That’s not important to me. Might be to him, I don’t know.”
Nicklaus also took a shot at the Tour for the way it designates and counts official titles.
“I don’t know how you add up tournaments anymore. Every time I go someplace, ‘winner of 113 tournaments, winner of 110 tournaments,’ I don’t know how many I won,” said Nicklaus, who is credited with 73 career PGA Tour wins, third behind only Woods and Snead.
“Depends on how many the Tour is taking away or giving me. They changed their mind every year about what they’re going to count. So I don’t know what’s what.
“No one in the world could know how many tournaments Sam Snead won.
“So I don’t know. I mean, Tiger, on regular tournaments, Tiger is probably the winningest player there ever was. And he’s probably won a higher percentage of tournaments than anybody that ever played.
“But I never — of course I’ve always measured my life differently. I never measured it on Tour wins. I measured it on major wins.”
Nicklaus went on to say that majors are different because the venues and players are more historical, allowing generational comparisons.
“I learned that as a kid — the first time that I ever really sort of thought about the game of golf and winning tournaments was 1953. I was 13 years old. And I remember Hogan winning at Oakmont. And he had won at the Masters. And first time — not that it meant much, but I started thinking about that. And of course he wins at Carnoustie, and he can’t get back to playing in the PGA. I thought that was pretty special,” continued Nicklaus.
“And I played my first USGA event that year after that. And I played the USGA juniors. And I loved the way the course was set up at Southern Hills. And Joe Dye set the golf course up. And I just love what they did. I loved when I played in the Amateur a couple of years later, I love the way the majors were set up.
“Then I played at Augusta. Then I got to play the British Amateur and the British Open. And I always liked that type of setup. That to me was some of the most important things. And of course I grew up Scioto, which is where Jones won. And Jones won in ’26 there. And all I heard all my life was Jones, Jones, Jones, as I was growing up.
“So major championships to me was what I always felt were the most important tournaments. And it’s something that’s — they’re the only ones you can compare back and forth – year or year, I think.”
Nicklaus closed with one final assignment for the media: “Would 82 be a major achievement? Absolutely. No question about that.
“But you ask Tiger, which he would rather win, 82 or 18, I think you might get a different answer.”