Gary Player is rarely at a loss for words and when asked what advice he'd give Rory McIlroy before he embarks on his PGA Tour career this year, the 74-year old South African was crystal clear.
In a veiled reference to sexual indiscretions that have rocked Tiger's world in recent weeks, Player told McIlroy's parents and advisers to keep a weather eye open for the femme fatal.
Tipping McIlroy as a young talent with the potential to become the world's best, Player said: "I assume that Rory has learnt a lesson not only watching golfers but watching some of the baseball players that have got into big trouble. And even the President of the United States, not just golfers. So they have got to watch him very carefully. There are a lot of young girls out there that will try and set a trap for him."
Speaking to Darragh Moloney on the RTE Radio One programme Sport at 7, the veteran winner of nine majors reiterated his view that McIlroy has the potential to become the best player in the world.
Of course, Player insisted as usual that this required serious exercise and a proper diet.
For the record, here's a transcript of the McIlroy related comments made by Player.
Q Rory McIlroy is a player who has really caught your eye over the last 12 months?
Extremely so. I’ve watched him continuously over the last few years and he has one of the most magnificent golf swings that I’ve seen in a long time. Throughout my 60 years of playing, I have seen a lot of young fellows with wonderful swings and some of them grow up to do well and some of them just fade by the wayside. Usually, the ones that understand the swing and understand how it works are the ones who do well.
So many players today, even players in the top 50, are not aware of the mechanics of the swing. Now that might sound strange to you. But when Rory was in Sun City in introduced myself and made the point of walking a few holes with him and he is such a nice young man, extremely well mannered. I don’t care how good they are. If they haven’t got good manners, I don’t even worry about him.
This young man has such very nice manners. His father was there. What a gentleman. The mother and father - as we always say: honour thy mother and father - they have given him good manners.
So I asked him, what do you think about in the swing when you play golf? And he talked with such logic. This boy, this young man, if he has the dedication... Now there are three ifs. Number one, if he has the dedication, which I think he has. Number two, if he exercises, which I don’t think he does what I call exercise anyway and three, if he has the passion. And I think he has that. The other one is to eat well, which he doesn’t do. I have only met three or four athletes who eat properly.
I will say this. Rory McIlroy could turn out to be the best player in the world, if he fulfills those four ifs.
Q Would you be worried about all the pressure on him?
Yes. I was very concerned about Rory and Ishikawa of Japan, who has also got a marvellous golf swing. Rory McIlroy and (Ryo) Ishikawa are the two best swings of young people I have seen in the world today. I am sure there are other ones that I haven’t seen. That is what would worry me. They are already treated like pop stars and very important people and none of us are really important. We just happen to have a talent that is maybe better than somebody else. So I particularly wanted to see Rory and his father and I don’t think he has got that worry. He doesn’t have to worry about it because he knows that golf clubs do the talking.
Q What advice do you have for him as he joins the PGA Tour this year?
I would work extremely hard on patience. That is one of the greatest assets that a golfer can have. Just have patience, work as hard and don’t try to force the issue. Go in your stride and you will do well. Practice hard. You have got to practice, practice, practice.
Q With Tiger Woods taking time out at the moment, the Americans are taking a big interest in McIlroy. His parents and advisers will have to be careful.
Exactly. I assume that Rory has learnt a lesson not only watching golfers but watching some of the baseball players that have got into big trouble. And even the President of the United States, not just golfers. So they have got to watch him very carefully. There are a lot of young girls out there that will try and set a trap for him.
Q What’s your take on what’s happened to Tiger Woods and when do you think he will be back playing?
First of all, I have made a point of making no comment on the Tiger Woods issue and secondly, I don’t know when he will be coming back to play. But I think he will come back and play as well as he ever did.