Nicklaus backs Rory to end major championship drought

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Jack Nicklaus admits Rory McIlroy’s nine-year major drought is a ‘mystery’ but believes the penny will drop with him soon and he will end his barren spell.

McIlroy hasn’t won a major championship since the 2014 PGA Championship and there seemed to be an inevitability to his chances of winning his fifth major title this year having come close in all four majors last year.

McIlroy saw his grand slam hopes go up in smoke with a missed cut at the Masters before finishing in the top-10 at the PGA Championship despite not having his best game. In a few months he has gone from looking a certainty to finally win a fifth major to being as far away as he has ever been, but Nicklaus still has faith in Rory.


“I was just with Rory just a few minutes ago but I don’t know really know what to make of it,” Nicklaus said ahead of hosting the Memorial Tournament. “Because he’s very confident. He works very hard at it. He’s a good student of the game. He practices a lot.

“I don’t know whether his is a constant lack of being able to keep that concentration for the whole thing or not, because sometimes he is the par, par, par, double, 8. He does that sometimes.

“And I said, Why, Rory? Why does that happen? And he doesn’t, he doesn’t, he doesn’t know. Nobody, when you’re doing it, you don’t know.

“You try to think about why you do it, but you don’t. I mean, he is, as far as talent, he’s as talented a player as there is in the game of golf. Why he hasn’t won in nine years? Kind of a mystery to a lot of people because he is so good.”

Nicklaus went through a major drought of sorts of his own. The now 83-year-old won the 1967 US Open but had to wait until the 1970 Open Championship to add to his tally as he raised his family and other commitments put golf on the back shelf.

The Golden Bear went on to win nine major titles in the next decade before winning his record 18th at the 1986 Masters and he credits a change in mindset after his father’s death made him realise he needed to stop the rot.

“But I think it’s a matter of … we all go through periods. Rory may be going through a little bit of that period. He’s going to wake up one morning and say, what’s he, Rory, about 33 or 34 now? 34 – wake up one morning and he says ‘Hey, I better get on the stick here and start winning some more majors’, because he’s certainly going to win some more. I can’t believe that he’s not.”

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