Jack Nicklaus has become one of Rory McIlroy’s biggest fans.
The 18 time major winner confessed that McIlroy’s win at Quail Hollow last month was one of the few times when he has been enticed to watch golf on TV this season.
Having sat down with McIlroy for two hours at the Bear Club earlier this year to offer the Holywood star advice, Nicklaus has now taken a keen interest in the youngster’s career.
The Golden Bear even sent McIlroy a letter of congratulations afterwards.
“I said, ‘What I told you is to play within yourself, but this is ridiculous’,” said Nicklaus, who will be McIlroy’s host at this week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
Watching golf on TV is a rarity for Nicklaus, who did tune in to watch 59 year old Tom Watson try and fail to win the Open at Turnberry last year. Even when Tiger Woods is contending and threatening to edge close to his record on 18 major wins, he will only watch for an hour or so.
“It’s not that I don’t watch golf because I don’t enjoy the game. I don’t watch golf because I’m not a spectator,” Nicklaus explained. “Never have been a spectator in any sport.”
Golf is normally playing in TV at his West Pam Beach home, however, and Nicklaus said that he will often pause as he walks by the TV set to see who’s winning.
One tournament that made him stop was the Quail Hollow Championship, when he saw McIlroy, two days from turning 21, storm to victory by firing a final-round 62. When McIlroy was at the Honda Classic in March, he arranged to have lunch with Nicklaus at his Bear’s Club. The Northern Irishman later said it was the best two hours he ever spent as he grilled Nicklaus about golf. “We talked about how to finish and what to do and what you go through in the game and things like that. So I kind of took an interest in him.”
McIlroy won by four shots from Phil Mickelson and Nicklaus, as he often does with younger players, wrote the youngster a letter of congratulations.