ORLANDO – Jack Nicklaus knows a thing or two about winning a Major tournament. He has won a record 18 of them.
So when asked why world No. 1 Rory McIlroy has not won a Major since 2014, the 83-year-old Nicklaus did not hold back.
“He’s got the best rhythm in the game. He uses his body better than anybody else. I love his attitude,” Nicklaus said this week on Nick Faldo’s new podcast, Sir Nick’s Round Table Chats. “But I don’t think Rory – he has (trouble) keeping his focus for some reason. I don’t know what it is.”
On Sunday, the Northern Irishman finished second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he had said he was unaware he was in the lead after the 13th hole.
He admitted he had paid the price for an over-aggressive tee-shot on No. 14. He had back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th.
Nicklaus went on to say that the 33-year-old McIlroy “just plays golf. And sometimes, you really can’t just play golf”.
Faldo asked Nicklaus to expound on that. “Well, I look at Augusta,” Nicklaus said. “Everybody knows Augusta pretty much.
“There’s about six shots at Augusta that you better pay attention to: your tee shot at 2, your second shot on 11, tee shot at 12, your tee shot at 13, and the second shot at 13, and the (second) shot at 15.
“Those six shots, if you’ve played those shots smart, play them intelligently and put them in the conservative side of the ledger, the rest of the golf course is not very hard.
“And so Rory, sometimes, gets caught up in just playing golf and all of a sudden: Where did that eight come from?
“And he’s too good for that. He’s too good... a player. And maybe he tries to keep himself too relaxed. I was never relaxed. I always wanted to be on point, every shot. I think you did, too.”
Faldo, who won six Majors, agreed: “When these kids say they’re going to go out and have fun tomorrow, how the hell do you have fun playing golf? Everything’s a challenge and you’ve enjoyed the challenge at the end of the day.”
McIlroy has four Majors (US Open in 2011, PGA Championship in 2012 and 2014, British Open in 2014). He finished second at the 2022 Masters.
After Nicklaus, Tiger Woods is next on the all-time list with 15 Majors. REUTERS