Sport Golf

Friday 23 February 2018

Nicklaus tells McIlroy he must improve to be the best

Rory McIlroy steps back into European Tour action in the BMW SA Open at Glendower GC in South Africa this week. Photo: Getty
Rory McIlroy steps back into European Tour action in the BMW SA Open at Glendower GC in South Africa this week. Photo: Getty Sportsdesk

Rory McIlroy has been warned by golf legend Jack Nicklaus that he must up his game if he is to dominate the sport. McIlroy is No 2 in the world rankings behind Jason Day and has so far in his career won four Majors, although the last two of those came in 2014 and he still has a considerable way to go to match the 18 Majors garnered by Nicklaus.

The 76-year-old American believes that, at 27, McIlroy is reaching the peak of his career, but in an interview with the BBC he warned the Irishman not to rest on his laurels.

"Rory is one of those young men who has got a tremendous amount of talent," said Nicklaus, who had won seven Majors by the time he reached McIlroy's current age. "He has won and played on his talent to this point. If he wishes to dominate and go forward then he's got to improve.

"He has to work hard, he's got to focus on what he is trying to do and it is up to him. Certainly he has all the tools to be able to do it - it is just whether he has the desire and the willingness to give up some other things.

"And that's his call. I mean, whatever Rory does, he has established himself as one of the great players that has ever played the game. Whether he wants to be the greatest player to have played the game, that's his determination and it's his decision whether he wants to make that effort to try to do that."

McIlroy's roll of honours includes two US PGA Championships (2012 and 2014), a US Open (2011) and the Open at Royal Liverpool (2014) but the Masters is the one still missing from his collection.

"I think he will win the Masters," said Nicklaus, a six-time winner at Augusta. "He certainly has the type of game that would do well at Augusta and he has done well before - he just hasn't finished it.

"The media are going to focus on this because he hasn't won it. He'll win it. He's a good player. I always felt like I was climbing a mountain and trying to get to the top of it,"

McIlroy is believed to be making plans to marry fiancée Erica Stoll in the spring, but Nicklaus does not believe it will affect his game. "It's just management of time," he said. "When you are young and single and just one-dimensional you pretty much can do things at your leisure. Once you start getting married, having a family, other business interests, then you've got to learn how to manage your time."

Irish Independent

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