DUBAI -- Nine-time Major champion and one of the legends of golf Gary Player was unsure if Tiger Woods, another legend, could make a comeback from injury but backed the American to make a return to the sport he once ruled.
Player, whose professional career stretched to 63 years during which he had 165 wins, also said that the game of golf will be poorer without Woods.
The South African, nicknamed 'The Black Knight,' also weighed in on the current crop of young golfers, especially the 'Big Three' of World No.1 Jordan Spieth, No.2 Rory McIlroy and No.3 Jason Day.
"It's fascinating, been fascinating for me, seeing all the different players throughout the 63 years. And seeing a man like Tiger Woods, who was without a question of a doubt, without a question of a doubt, the most talented man that ever held a golf club, and he's at the crossroads," Player said on the sidelines of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Majlis Course of the Emirates Golf Club on Saturday.
"We are all hoping that he will do well, because he is vitally important for golf. He gave golf a boost as much as I've ever seen in my life. So it's important that he comes back. But what a challenge he's got, what a challenge he's got on his hands. We are all hoping he will do it," he added.
Woods has been laid low by a back injury and has been missing from action for close to six months. His last appearance was at the Wyndham Championship in August. Since then, the 40-year-old has undergone two surgeries to his troublesome back.
Player is now 80 years old but is still fit as ever and while such injuries could end many a sportsmen's careers, he felt that Woods could come on the other side of it.
"Fifty percent of me says yes, because he was the most talented man that ever lived, and 50 percent of me says, I have my doubts, because he had the yips. When you see this phenomenal golfer hitting chip shots five feet, five feet and then hitting the next chip over the green, my goodness, and not hitting fairways, it's astounding, isn't it," said Player.
"We were so accustomed to seeing him hit a chip shot this close or holing a putt across the green or hitting his driver 330 yards down the fairway. Now you see him in the rough and you see him duffing chips; and three knee operations and two back operations and a few of the other problems he's had, wow but if anybody can do it, it's Tiger Woods. What I do hope is that he really can come back because golf needed a man like him," Player added.
Player also had an opinion on the 'Big Three,' especially American Jordan Spieth.
"It is fascinating to watch the new, so called, at this moment, 'Big Three,' Rory, Jordan and Jason Day," he said.
"Rory and Jason Day have the best swings. But the best putter is Jordan Spieth. And it's going to be fascinating to see who does the best in the end. All I can say is that that old saying that the Scottish people came up with, you drive for show and you putt for dough, so damn true. This man is such a putter. He might be as good a putter as I've seen. Although Tiger takes a lot of beating, what he did. But this man day in and day out is such a great putter. And it's wonderful to see this competition amongst the three," added the Hall of Famer.
This article was written by James Jose from Khaleej Times and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.