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Rory McIlroy: World number two must improve to be the best, says Jack Nicklaus

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By Iain Carter

BBC golf correspondent

 

 
 
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Rory McIlroy has never won a Masters title, the only championship that has eluded him from a career grand slam

 

Golf's most prolific major winner, Jack Nicklaus, says Rory McIlroy must improve if he is to dominate the sport.

 

McIlroy goes into 2017 with only Jason Day above him in the world rankings and with four major titles to his name.

 

Nicklaus believes the 27-year-old from Northern Ireland now has to decide whether he wants to try to become the sport's greatest player. 

 
Speaking to BBC Sport, the 18-time major champion was also optimistic about golf's future but renewed his call for a cut in the distance the ball travels.

In recent years Nicklaus has developed a strong friendship with McIlroy, who often practises at the 76-year-old American's Bears Club in Jupiter, Florida. 

 

"Rory is one of those young men who has got a tremendous amount of talent," Nicklaus said.

 

"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."

 

Nicklaus warned that standing still at the top of the game means only one thing - quickly being passed. And he believes the UK's leading player is now approaching the prime of his career. 

 

"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."

 

The 2017 season is likely to be a pivotal year in McIlroy's life with his wedding to fiancee Erica Stoll rumoured to be scheduled for the weeks following April's Masters. 

 

Nicklaus famously combined a successful family life, bringing up five children, with collecting a record number of majors and an astonishing 118 tournament victories worldwide.

 

"It's just management of time," Nicklaus 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 and use it efficiently. He'll learn that."

 

McIlroy has won two US PGA Championships as well as the 2011 US Open and 2014 Open. Next April he will arrive at Augusta seeking, for the third time, to complete a career grand slam.

 

"I think he will win the Masters [some day]," said the man who donned the famous Green Jacket on a record six occasions. 

 

"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."

 

And Nicklaus says McIlroy should not be put off by the hype that will accompany his continued attempts to land the one major to have eluded him. 

 

"The media are going to focus on this because he hasn't won it," Nicklaus added. "He'll win it. He's a good player." 

 

Although Nicklaus says he feels McIlroy needs to improve, the American veteran refuses to be drawn on specifics.

 

"I always felt like I was climbing a mountain and trying to get to the top of it," he said.

 

 
"And once I got to the top I was probably close to my mid-forties. And then I thought, maybe it's time to take a slide down the other side. But as you're playing and working at it you have to keep climbing and trying to get better."
 
What are your thoughts on Rory?  Is this the year he breaks through for the career Grand Slam?  
I loved the way he finished 2016 - seemed like he was focused, healthy and back to being the Rory of 2014. If he's on, I can see him going on the same kind of run in 2017.  If Spieth is back to playing well, and Day and DJ and Reed are all on their games, and if Matsuyama stays on the roll he's been on, it's going to be an awesome year of golf...

 

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Driver:  Sub 70 639D - 9.5; :cleveland-small: Launcher HB Turbo; :mizuno-small: ST 190 
FW Wood: :tour-edge: Tour Edge EXS 220 - 15*; :mizuno-small: ST 180 14*
Hybrids:  PXG 0311 22
Utility Irons: :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Utilities 18, 21, 24*;  Lynx VT Stinger - 16*
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Jack was fantastic in his day and I like hearing him talk about his career.

 

Any time he opens his mouth about anything to do with the modern game I end up rolling my eyes

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:ping-small: G410 LST 14.5* Tour AD DI 7X
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:mizuno-small: MP20 HMB 4 Tour AD 95X
:mizuno-small: JPX 919 Tour 5-PW Oban CT 115 X(-)
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Generally speaking I agree with you Ilukes. This time though we finally have an all time great who in the last paragraph has kind and realistic things to say about the state of the professional game.

 

We truly are entering a promising year and Jack is as edited as we are. That's great.

 

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I cannot imagine what it would look like to have all of those guys playing well this year. I think Rory will win the Green Jacket, maybe not this year but he will in the 3 for sure.  Just want to watch him hit those towering 5 woods all day. Between all the equipment shuffles and intrigue into majors I cannot wait to 2017 golf! 

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5-Wood:  :adams-small: Tight Lies 2 (19*) 

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I get what Jack is saying, even though he wasn't very specific.

 

I think when he's at his best Rory is the best in the world.

 

I'm a big DJ fan. But I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Rory go on a steak and win something like 4 of 8 majors.

 

When he's playing confident he's fun to watch.

 

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I get what Jack is saying, even though he wasn't very specific.

 

I think when he's at his best Rory is the best in the world.

 

I'm a big DJ fan. But I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Rory go on a steak and win something like 4 of 8 majors.

 

When he's playing confident he's fun to watch.

 

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I don't know that he's a consistent enough putter to do that.

 

If you could combine his game with Spieth's you'd have that player and his name would be Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods.

 

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Ping G410 - set at 12 degrees, fade setting - Fujikura Motore X R flex

Ping G410 5-9 wood

G30 6-PW -  Aerotech FT 500 shafts

SCOR 48,52,56,60

EVNRoll ER 5

Titleist Pro VIx optic yellow with revkev stamped on them

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It's always a toss up when Jack comments on anything around the state of the game. But this time, the "Jack roulette" is spot on. We saw what a joke "The big three" became b/c there isn't a single, dominant player right now.

 

You can argue DJ can be dominant...You can argue Day can be dominant - But that's the point...there are a handful of guys who could be "the" guy, but Rory is maybe the most talented of all of them - 

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I'm a big Jason Day fan, but I think Rory has what it takes to dominate "almost" like Tiger did. He just needs a tune up between his ears. If he gets his head right, I think we will see this generation's most dominant player. If not, we still have a wealth of great talent to watch.

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I think it will be an interesting year for Rory in a good way now that he is a "free agent" so to speak on the equipment end of things. Actually I would love to see more of the top players playing what they want to play not what they are being paid to play

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5 wood Adams Tight Lies 

24* Hybrid Adams A 10-OS Pro Launch Red R

Irons 5 thru PW 1980 Macgregor VIP Hogan Apex #2 shafts

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I'm a big Jason Day fan, but I think Rory has what it takes to dominate "almost" like Tiger did. He just needs a tune up between his ears. If he gets his head right, I think we will see this generation's most dominant player. If not, we still have a wealth of great talent to watch.

+1: little mental work and away he goes:)

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was a Rory fan and still am to an extent but not as much as I used to. He is not a good ambassador to the game. I mean, he threw the Olympics under the bus when he could have used that opportunity to make the game bigger. I personally stand behind Jordan Speith and Jason Day as I can relate to Jordan with his sister and my son having Autism. Jason Day's story in downright inspiring and I want him to succeed. DJ is also another one I've got with everything he's been through. I would rather see any of those 3 succeed over Rory any day.

 

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DRIVER:                  :mizuno-small:  ST190, 10.5*, Fujikura  Atmos Black Tour Spec 65g, Stiff flex, Golf Pride CP2 Wrap, midsize

HYBRIDS:    :adams-small:    Pro  2 hybrid 16*, Aldila Tour Red 75g, Stiff, Superstroke TX1 Midsize grip 

                        :mizuno-small:           JPX 850 hybrid 19*, UST Proforce V2 85g, Stiff, Superstroke TX1 Midsize grip                                  

IRONS:            :cobra-small:    King Forged Tour 4i-pw, KBS FLT, shafts, stiff,  Superstroke TX1 Midsize grips

WEDGES:        rsz_scor-golf-logo.png        50, 55, 60 degree wedges with Genius 12 stiff flex,   Superstroke TX1 Midsize grips

PUTTER:       :odyssey-small:    O-Works Marksman 33.5", Superstroke 1.0 Flatso grip w/ 50g counter core

BALL:          :bridgestone-small: Tour B X                                                     
                  
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So how long before Jack says Justin Thomas can be the best ever 😋

 

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:titelist-small: SM7 54.08 F 58.12 K 

:scotty-small:  Phantom 5.5   35" 

:titelist-small: ProV1X Play number 12

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

Jack is my favorite golfer - however he is also very careful to say only positive reaffirmations about the current top players. Rory is a phenom when he is in the zone. He is a bit of a head case when he is not and, from my view, doesn't have the burning desire to win 10 or more majors let alone one or two more. A classic case of too much money too fast

 

 

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an older post ;)

 

I wonder what Jack would say now 18 mths on?

 

 

I think this is going to be a great year in the Majors and Ryder Cup of course. So many good players at the top now.

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4 Wood   Callaway Big Bertha Steelhead plus 4+  :callaway-small: Callaway shaft in 'Firm' flex

Hybrid     Titleist 910H 19*    :titelist-small:   Diamana ahina 'flower' shaft in 'S'

Irons         Mizuno MP18SC 4-PW   :mizuno-small:  N.S Pro Modus3 Tour 105 in 'S'

Wedges    Callaway Mack Daddy forged in black 50* and 54*  :callaway-small:   KBS Tour in 'R'

Putter        'YES' Tracy 11 C groove 34.5"

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I think what separates Rory and Tiger is the consistency. Tiger had it and Rory has not really demonstrated it. 

 

When Rory is on he is a sensation to watch, but that only happens every once in a while. 

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  • 2 months later...

I think that he can and will be the best again! He needs confidence back in his putting game. Stop switching putters and go back to what worked, Fastback style putter...c'mon Rory...you hit a mile long.

 

 

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Stolen clubs....in between!   

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