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Arnold Palmer: Tiger could still catch Jack

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LATROBE, Pa. – The best golfer of his generation has been asked about the best golfer of this generation a thousand times. But even Arnold Palmer isn't quite sure what to make of Tiger Woods these days when it comes to closing the deal on major weekends.

"The psychology of getting in position and then being able to carry it forward [to a win] ... when he was younger, that was pretty easy to do," Palmer says. "Now that he's older, it will be more difficult. He'll have to really struggle. I think he'll find it, I think he's still about as good as you can get, but it'll be difficult."

Palmer is in his Latrobe, Pa., office, where he whiles away the summer months. All around him are trophies, plaques, medals, mementos, books and so much more, all packed so tightly that many sit on the floor. In one photo, from a charity event several years back, Woods is watching the flight of Palmer's tee shot. Woods has always shown deference to Palmer and the other legends of the game.

But unlike Palmer, Woods hasn't had a consistent rival to challenge him and best him on a regular basis. Phil, Vijay, Ernie, Rory ... none of them has been able to mount a sustained challenge to Woods.

"If the competition is there," Palmer says, "he's going to be pressed to be better."

With that in mind, with the competition in golf now every bit Woods' equal, can he rise to the challenge? Specifically, can he clear that major hurdle five more times to pass Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors?

"Can he? Yes," Palmer says, without hesitation. "But will he? That is..." Palmer pauses, weighing how to answer. He finally lifts a hand, rotating it in a "so-so" motion. "Very questionable."

But Palmer, who still watches golf every weekend with a practiced eye, hasn't counted out Woods just yet. "I think we'll hear more about him," Palmer smiles. "He will be a factor in any tournament he plays."

This is the first of several articles from a conversation Arnold Palmer had with Yahoo! Sports in his Latrobe, Pa. office.

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