As the players came off the 18th green at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday, tournament host Jack Nicklaus gave his congratulations and thoughts to each one.
One of them was Rory McIlroy who skipped up to the Golden Bear after carding a disappointing 75 to finish back in tied for seventh.
“Not your day, I’m sorry, ” Nicklaus said to the Northern Irishman.
And then he said, “We have to sit down and chat sometime.”
This intriguing exchange was caught on camera beside the last green at Muirfield Village – but what did Nicklaus mean with his words?
After the tournament, the 18-time major champion was asked how he would best advise an amateur who was turning professional, and he used McIlroy as an example.
“I tell the story about Rory McIlroy,” he said. “Rory came to me when he was 19 years old and he was struggling, he said. A 19-year-old struggling? He hadn’t won for a year, and that had been in Dubai.
“And he was at the Honda tournament down in Florida, and he came over and had lunch with me, and I told him, you got to just be patient.
“Pretty soon you’re going to get to that last round and you’re going to be in contention and instead of shooting 36 or 37, you’re going to shoot 32 or 33 and you’re going to win the golf tournament, and it’s just patience. It’s going to happen. You’re just too good a player for that not to happen.”
Before the tournament, Nicklaus described McIlroy’s nine-year drought in golf’s four biggest events as “a mystery” and the pair seem to have a strong relationship.
McIlroy reported Nicklaus is never scared to share his opinion, prior to the $20 million purse event, when they see each other at The Bear’s Club in Florida – a golf venue founded by Nicklaus and his wife in 1999.
Despite a disappointing end in Ohio, it was McIlroy’s third top 10 in his last five events and there were still promising signs ahead of his next stops at the RBC Candian Open and the US Open.
He gave way to allow fellow European Viktor Hovland to seal the deal in dramatic style.
After Denny McCarthy bogeyed the 72nd hole, Hovland was waiting in the wings for the playoff. A par on the first sudden-death hole was enough for the Norwegian to win his fourth PGA Tour title.
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