David Leadbetter: 'Tiger won't break Nicklaus's record'

Jack Nicklaus’s record is safe for the moment, Tiger Woods is unlikely to break it. At least that is what David Leadbetter, a trendsetter in golf coaching, had to say at the launch of his David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

DAVID LEADBETTER

David Leadbetter was bullish on the prospects of the sport in India.   -  AFP

Jack Nicklaus's record is safe for the moment, Tiger Woods is unlikely to break it. At least that is what David Leadbetter, a trendsetter in golf coaching, had to say during a media interaction at the launch of his David Leadbetter Golf Academy in association with the Oxford Golf Resort here on Friday.

"Everybody asks will we see the old Tiger. Well you won’t. Personally, I don't think he is going to break Jack Nicklaus's record. If he wins one more Major, it will be a tremendous feat.

"He is 41 now. And if you have had the amount of back and knee surgeries that he has had...," added Leadbetter as he trailed off.

Leadbetter was bullish on the prospects of the sport in India. "Indians have a particular liking for ball sports like cricket and hockey. Both of these require good hand-eye co-ordination, and the swing of the arms.

"Growing up on these sports, I think Indians should naturally gravitate towards golf, unlike say the Koreans or the Chinese who don’t traditionally play ball sports."

Leadbetter, who is a big fan of cricket, also was not averse to the idea of changing the format to bring in the eyeballs. "T20 cricket has revolutionised the way cricket is watched. I was seeing the Australia-Pakistan game and there were hardly any crowds but it was different scene altogether for the Big Bash.

"But the problem with golf and the powers that be is that they are very traditional and not given to change. They say, 'this has worked for so many years. So why change?'

"However, changes are happening like a six-hole game. Golf is time intensive and that is something at a premium for the player. So maybe in the future we could see things moving in the direction, where there are shorter formats."

Speaking of new directions, golf in Olympics had Leadbetter very excited. "It is good for the sport and Justin Rose's gold medal is great news. The spectator support at the Games was phenomenal and even the organisers were surprised by the numbers."

One player who he watched at Rio, was India's Aditi Ashok. "LPGA. That should be Aditi's aim. She has the talent and potential. But she needs to compete in America where the conditions are different and the competition tougher," said Leadbetter.

"She has had a tremendous upthrust in her career in a very short time. She is 18, so she can get stronger and work on her weaknesses. Aditi can be in the upper echelons and be a beacon for ladies golf in India."

Leadbetter, who became hooked on to the game at the age of 12, said that there was no particular age at which one could take up golf. Leadbetter also advised against putting too much pressure upon the youngsters and expect them to perform miracles.

"I see too many overbearing parents ruin their children's childhood and it becomes very difficult to deal with them. I have seen extremely talented 10-12 year olds who are burnt out by the time they turn 18 or 20. There is a lesson to be learnt here for all of us.

"It is important that those taking up golf love the sport."

On the issue of technique and coaching, Leadbetter who has broken many long-held beliefs and theories, wants to keep it simple and said, "Over analysis leads to paralysis."

Speaking at the launch, Anil Seolekar, chairman, Oxford Group and a former president of the Indian Golf Union, said, "One of our passions at the academy is to develop the stars of tomorrow. We offer a comprehensive, holistic junior programme - for grassroots levels and Get Golf Ready programmes for elite level coaching. We also provide residential Junior Performance Camps and an exciting Junior Satellite Programme for those that live afar."