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Rory McIlroy gets golden approval from Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus has thrown his considerable clout behind Rory McIlroy's insistence that the short game is not the most important part of the sport.

Speaking on the eve of the Honda Classic, Nicklaus confessed that it was he who convinced McIlroy that the long game was by far the most important element of a golfer's armoury.

McIlroy (21) hit back at his short-game critics in Tucson last week when he insisted that it's the long game that wins tournaments and not chipping and putting.

“The long game puts you in position to have putts to win tournaments. Guys say you have to have a short game to win tournaments and it is not the case,” he said

‘Golden Bear' Nicklaus won a record 18 Majors and while he holed a huge number of pressure putts inside 10 feet, his short game was easily his biggest weakness.

He said: “I agree with Rory. In fact, it was me who told him so in the first place, when we had lunch last year. I told Rory that I never practiced my short game because I felt like if I can hit 15 greens a round and hit a couple of par-fives in two and if I can make all my putts inside 10 feet, who cares where I chip it?”

World No 4 Graeme McDowell is one of the favourites to lift the title as he heads out with former Honda Classic winner Vijay Singh (48) and young gun Rickie Fowler (22). But when asked about the importance of the long game over the short game, he had no doubts.

McDowell said: “I think I would rather have the short game because I feel like a talent like Seve around the greens or what Luke (Donald) has, you can frame a long game in around that. “

McIlroy, who can leap from eighth to fifth in the world rankings with a victory at Palm Beach, tees it up alongside Donald and defending champion Camilo Villegas.

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