Golden Bear backing McIlroy to bloom in November Masters

Bernie McGuire

Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy and the Player of the Year trophy during the Player of the Year ceremony at The Bear's Club (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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One of Rory McIlroy’s biggest supporters is still the greatest name in golf – Jack Nicklaus.

McIlroy first met Nicklaus in March 2009 in a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida shopping centre car park. It was two months after McIlroy had captured a maiden European Tour title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and McIlroy, accompanied by his father, was competing in his very first ‘regular’ PGA Tour event having accepted an invitation to tee-up that week in the Honda Classic.

“Hi, I thought it was you,” said Nicklaus at the time in a complete surprise to both McIlroys as all three emerged into the car park. They got chatting with the 18-time Major winner inviting McIlroy to visit the Bear’s Club and use the facilities.

McIlroy would then become a member of the Bear’s Club and a few years back purchased the palatial abode within the ultra-private Bear’s Club estate once owned by Ernie Els.

‘Ror’s and the ‘Golden Bear’ are now very, very good friends as evident last year when Nicklaus surprised McIlroy at the Bear’s Club with his ‘2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year’ award, and also evident when McIlroy recently revealed Nicklaus goes around within the clubhouse at the Bear’s Club politely flicking off the caps of those golfers wearing their golf caps inside the club and that includes McIlroy.

Nicklaus has spoken before on McIlroy’s career, including his belief that he will eventually win that illusive maiden Masters.

And with the 2020 Masters now rescheduled for the 12-15 November, in what will be wintry Georgia conditions, Nicklaus believes McIlroy can still capture a first Masters.

“Rory seems to play better in the fall,” said Nicklaus.

“As you know, he’s won the Tour Championship a couple times. Played in Atlanta, very similar conditions. I think this scheduling will be to Rory’s favour.”

A check of McIlroy’s now 27 worldwide pro career wins reveals:

  • Nine of 18 PGA Tour wins from August onwards including three in August (2 x PGA Championships & 1 x Tour Championships), four in September (1 x Tour Championship) for a first time last year in November (WGC – HSBC Champions).
  • Three of seven ‘regular’ European Tour wins post August with two in November ( 2 -2012 & 2015 DP World Tour C’ship) & one in December at the 2011 Hong Kong Open.
  • McIlroy also won the October 2011 Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters and the December 2013 Australian Open.

Nicklaus in again confidently backing McIlroy revealed he ‘did not expect’ the Masters to be rescheduled in 2020.

“I didn’t expect the Masters to even be played. I didn’t think it could be adjusted to it,” Nicklaus said.

“But to be played in November is obviously better than no Masters.”

And as I have been writing, Augusta in November is going to be a very different golf course than the warm Spring conditions in the second week of April.

“The golf course will be especially overseeded, unless they decide to wait until after the Masters to overseed it,” said the six-time Augusta-winning hero.

“So the playing conditions will be different. Obviously it won’t have any flowers. But the greens will be fine, and the Masters will be good.”


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