It’s always been the scenario when Jack speaks, the golf world sits up and takes notice.
I mentioned this last week in Irish Golfer Magazine’s coverage of the Honda Classic that Nicklaus will always visit the tournament media centre for a chat with the media, with no goal posts set in place as to what is discussed.
Well, we know Nicklaus has been speaking to fellow Masters champion Nick Faldo, and with the ‘it’s always about me’ Faldo reinventing himself as a podcast host after the teary-eyed scenes in August last year when he stepped down following 19-years working for CBS TV.
First-up the other day on Faldo’s new Sir Nick’s Round Table Chats podcast was Nicklaus and the 18-time major champ, over the course of a 26-minute chat, delved into a host of topics including his thoughts on Rory McIlroy’s game and what McIlroy needs to do, if he’s to move forward after now nine years and add to a collection of four majors.
Faldo put it to Nicklaus remarking: “I think this has been a good clear-out, but you go to the low, and then Rory’s climbed his way back, must be super relaxed, and he knows that just somehow — almost going back to you talking about your — your attitude I’m sure when you played was just don’t get — you’re so good; you know when you go to a tournament, you’re better than anybody else. Like just don’t get in your own way. Even you admit you got in your own way at times.”
“Absolutely!” Nicklaus replied.
“Rory sometimes, I think he just plays golf, and sometimes, you really can’t just play golf.”
It prompted Faldo to ask golf’s Golden Bear what he meant by that.
“Well, I look at Augusta”, said Nicklaus. “Everybody knows Augusta pretty much. There’s about six shots at Augusta that you better pay attention to: your tee shot at two, your second shot on 11, tee shot at 12, your tee shot at 13, and the second shot at 13, and the tee shot at 15.
“Those six shots, if you’ve played those shots smart, play them intelligently and put them in the conservative side of the ledger, the rest of the golf course is not very hard.
“Rory sometimes gets caught up in just playing golf and all of a sudden: Where did that eight come from?
“And he’s too good for that. He’s too good of a player. And maybe he tries to keep himself too relaxed. I was never relaxed. I always wanted to be on point, every shot. I think you did too.”
Of course, much has been going on off the course in McIlroy’s life, with Nicklaus and Faldo recognising this stating that when it comes to being inside the competition ropes he must be fully focussed.
“You can’t get relaxed and feel good and sort of enjoy — you can’t enjoy the round,” Nicklaus said. “You’ve got to play the round, and when you play the round well, that’s your enjoyment.”
Faldo remarked: “Agree, 100 percent. When these kids say they’re going to go out and have fun tomorrow, how the hell do you have fun playing golf? It’s exactly what you’re saying. Everything’s a challenge and you’ve enjoyed the challenge at the end of the day.”
“That’s the fun,” Nicklaus said. “And so I love the pressure. Pressure is what you live for. And so, that’s what we did. I love Rory. I think he’s a great guy. He’s right now in the prime of his career. He’s going to win more tournaments, more majors, I don’t think there’s any question about that. And when he wins more, he’s going to win more than just one. But he’s got to be able to not allow that to happen to him.”