The 70-year-old won 18 majors in his illustrious career but Woods appeared to be well on the way to passing that mark when he won a 14th title at the U.S Open in 2008.
However, a serious knee injury led to a major-less 2009 and following his recent travails off the course, Woods is in danger of repeating the feat this year as well.
Nicklaus says if the world number one fails to win at Pebble Beach or St Andrews -- the scene of the U.S. Open and British Open Championship respectively -- he may lose all chance of catching the 70-year-old's total of major victories.
"If he is going to get his game back on track he needs to do it pretty quickly," Nicklaus said.
"He's playing the Memorial Tournament (hosted by Nicklaus) next week and he will need that event.
"I said earlier this year if Tiger plays, and plays all the majors, I suspect he would win one or two of those.
"He did not win the Masters -- he came pretty close -- but I suspect he will win one or two of the next few if he is in shape to play.
"If he does he will probably go ahead and break my record. If he doesn't win this year he has a tougher road to go.
"He will be 36 next year and time starts to go. He has to win five majors. Phil Mickelson won his fourth at the Masters, but prior to that three was the next closest (active) guy.
"So Tiger has to win almost two careers (of a 'regular' player) in the next five or six years to do that and that is a pretty big chore."
Nicklaus added that he had no idea how Woods' marital problems would effect his game in the long-term.
"I'm wondering what is going to happen and your guess is as good as mine," Nicklaus added.
"It is really very difficult for anyone to understand what has gone on in Tiger's private life over the last few months.
"I feel very badly for him and his wife and for the issues he is going through.
"I've always got on great with Tiger, always respected him as a golfer and the way he has handled things.
"I don't even want to understand what is going through his head with all the other stuff but I'm sure it is not easy."