Jack Nicklaus when he was 20 years old

Rory McIlroy can’t wait to tee it up with major winners Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen in the WGC-CA Championship at Doral.

But it will be hard to impress the 20-year old Holywood starlet following his power lunch with 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus at the Bear’s HQ in West Palm Beach last week.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” said McIlroy of his meeting with Nicklaus. “He got in touch with us and he heard that I was going to work with Bob Rotella just to sort of work out a mental approach to things.

“He’s been the best at winning. One of the reasons why I wanted to go to Bob was to try to finish the job off a bit more and be a bit more clinical and Jack was probably the most clinical of them all.

“It was great to sit down and talk to him and see his approach to winning and what went through his head whenever he was in contention and what things he might have done differently than other people. You know, it was probably the best 90 minutes I’ve spent in a long time.”

McIlroy has admitted to becoming frustrated by his inability to win his second title as a professional. But he learned from Nicklaus that patience is a virtue.

He said: “I think one of the biggest things he said to me was  the best ever tournament he played, he didn’t win. He said he played his best ever at The Open in ‘77, Turnberry, the one Watson won. He played the best he played and he didn’t win. He said there’s other times where he didn’t play his best but he got the job done.

“I think one of the biggest things that I took from it was patience, and just to learn to wait and learn to bide your time and know that if you believe in yourself that it will happen; it will happen one of these days so it’s just a matter of waiting and staying patient. That was one of the big things I got from him.”

McIlroy also revealed that his back injury is much improved and that he plans to practice at Augusta National next week.

He said: “I will go up to Augusta Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday next week to play a few rounds. So obviously it’s getting good for the time of year where everyone has started to think about Augusta and think about the shots that you need. 

“So, you know, I’m really looking forward to getting up there again. It’s one of my favorite places to play golf. It’s exciting. It’s the first major of the year and everyone is excited about it. I’m just feeling very lucky that I’m able to play in it again.”

Asked if he felt that he had the game for Augusta, where he was 20th on his debut last year, McIlroy said: “I do. It was my first look at this last year. I think going back this year I’ll hopefully know a bit more about the golf course. So, you know, hopefully that should help me.

“But, you know, you’ve got to hit the shots at Augusta. If you’re off your game the tiniest bit at Augusta, it makes you look very silly sometimes. So you have to be completely on your game to do well around there, and you know, hopefully I can get to that point leading up to the tournament.”