Saturday 17 March 2018

Frustrated or not, McIlroy should never have walked off – Nicklaus

If Rory McIlroy had hoped the controversy of his mid-round withdrawal at the Honda Classic would die down he was sorely disappointed when Jack Nicklaus delivered his admonishment, writes JAMES CORRIGAN.

Nicklaus, the 18-time major winner, has become something of a mentor to McIlroy and, as the designer of this PGA National course, whose Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation is the tournament's main beneficiary, he may have expected a call from the world No 1 explaining himself.

Nicklaus revealed he's yet to speak to McIlroy, who lives a few miles from the course.

And while he was keen to point out that he wasn't sure of the reasons for McIlroy pulling out after eight holes of his second round, his comments left little room for doubt concerning his feelings.

"He shouldn't have walked off the golf course," Nicklaus said. "That was unfortunate. I think if he'd thought about it for five minutes he wouldn't have done it.

"I just think he was just so frustrated with how he's been playing the last month or so it just got to him. That would be my assessment, although I may be talking out of school."

Nobody would ever dare accuse Nicklaus of doing that; least of all McIlroy.

The irony is that McIlroy practised at Nicklaus' Bears Club over the weekend, under the gaze of coach Michael Bannon. He arrives in Miami today for the WGC Cadillac Championship. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Whitson takes title in Spain

Reeve Whitson claimed the biggest win of his rapidly blossoming career when he lifted the Spanish Amateur title in style at La Manga.

The 21-year-old former Northern Ireland stroke play champion from Mourne captured the crown with a magnificent 4&3 victory in the 36-hole final over English ace Neil Raymond who has held the Brabazon Trophy for the past two years.

Success followed his 5&4 semi-final defeat of European No 1 Adrien Saddier and victory over Englishman Jamie Rutherford in the quarter-final.

Whitson was naturally delighted with his week's work. "I felt comfortable in both the stroke play and knock-out and managed to hold my nerve in the difficult semi-final and final," said the new champion.

With Ireland winning the Nations Cup during this tournament it augurs well for the season ahead.

Irish Independent

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