Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

McIlroy should heed the wisdom of Nicklaus

Rory McIlroy said toothache forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic
Rory McIlroy said toothache forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic

As Rory McIlroy returns to work this week we can only hope that he listens more carefully to the words of (speaking officially and no doubt for quite some time) the world's greatest golfer than he did to those of one who was merely in the upper bracket of historic achievement.

 

The wunderkind from Holywood shrugged away Sir Nick Faldo's warning that a change of clubs might bring, along with vast financial reward, the need for a fine but crucial realigning of his stunning skills. However, penetrating or not, Faldo's advice was deserving of at least a little public respect. Faldo has six major titles and is generally acknowledged as the supreme example of a player whose success was forged on an anvil of the hardest work.

Jack Nicklaus (18 majors) also slaved to make his name, recalling at one point of anguished, though brief decline, how his father had burned braziers on the local course in Ohio to unfreeze the tees and give him the opportunity for midwinter practice.

It may be a different world but some priorities remain the same and Nicklaus, an admirer and sometimes confidant as McIlroy rocketed to his world No 1 ranking, has made clear his shock and disapproval at his young friend's decision to walk off the course in Florida and later blame the onset of toothache.

Nicklaus was emphatic in his displeasure, saying: "I don't know how bad this wisdom tooth was hurting but he should not have walked off the course and if he had thought about it for five minutes he wouldn't have done so, but on this occasion I think he got it wrong."

Five minutes is perhaps not too long to weigh the difference between a lifetime champion and someone still to learn quite all that is involved. If the naturally brilliant McIlroy cannot manage to listen to Jack Nicklaus, there are surely some bad and bewildering days ahead.

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