Jack Nicklaus believes that if Rory McIlroy ups his game he will establish himself as the top golfer in the world and win the US Masters.
The golfing legend, who has donned the famous Green Jacket a record six times, was speaking to the BBC’s Iain Carter about how he thinks the Hollywood native will adjust to married life. The 27-year-old is believed to be getting wed to Erica Stoll in the weeks after the Augusta tournament.
Nicklaus, who enjoyed enormous success while bringing up a family of five, believes that McIlroy, who has climbed back to second in the world rankings, does not think that will be an unwelcome distraction.
“It’s just management of time,” Nicklaus said. “When you are young and single and just one dimensional you pretty much can do things at your leisure.
“Once you start getting married, having a family, other business interests, then you’ve got to learn how to manage your time and use it efficiently. He’ll learn that.”
But Nicklaus, who has developed a friendship with the young star since he started practicing at his American’s Bears Club in Florida, believes that Rory has to decide if he wants to break his own records to become one of the sport’s greatest ever.
“Rory is one of those young men who has got a tremendous amount of talent,” said the record 19- time major-winner. “He has won and played on his talent to this point. If he wishes to dominate and go forward then he’s got to improve.
“He has to work hard, he’s got to focus on what he is trying to do and it is up to him. Certainly he has all the tools to be able to do it – it is just whether he has the desire and the willingness to give up some other things.
“And that’s his call. I mean, whatever Rory does, he has established himself as one of the great players that has ever played the game.
“Whether he wants to be the greatest player to have played the game, that’s his determination and it’s his decision whether he wants to make that effort to try to do that.”
When looking at top-10 finishes as a percentage Tiger Woods still tops the list, with an astonishing 57 per cent of all tournament finished in the top ten. But Rory is not too far behind, and holds the second highest average, with 47 per cent of all tournaments he enters resulting a in a top-ten finish. His current rivals Jason Day and Jordan Spieth only finish on 30 and 38 per cent respectively.
“I think he will win the Masters some day,” Nicklaus continued of the four-time major winner. “He certainly has the type of game that would do well at Augusta and he has done well before, he just hasn’t finished it.”