With Arnold Palmer booking his tee time at the big 18 in the sky earlier this year, 76-year-old Jack Nicklaus’ public remarks will garner even more attention for the remainder of the Golden Bear’s term in this celestial sphere (Gary Player is off doing 1,000 crunches somewhere).
The 18-time major winner, and arguably the greatest competitor the game has ever seen, told a hard truth in a sitdown with BBC Sport: Rory McIlroy needs to work harder and get better to be the greatest…and it’s hard to think he’s talking about doing more box jumps.
Speaketh the Bear:
“He [Rory] 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…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.”
Two big Implications from Nicklaus here, friends *Jim Nantz voice*:
- McIlroy is spending time doing what he shouldn’t
- McIlroy isn’t making the effort necessary to claw toward GOAT status.
Nicklaus continued, striking the similar optimistic tone he takes when discussing all things Tiger Woods, “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.”
He’ll learn that. Will he? We’ll see. Either way, Nicklaus joins a chorus of McIlroy critics, questioners, and commenters, including our George Mackenzie, who took issue with some of the Ulsterman’s remarks and behavior this year.