Louisville: Rory McIlroy can go on to win 15 to 20 Majors. That is the view of a certain Jack Nicklaus as Rory set out here at the 96th USPGA Championship, on Thursday, to become the first player in six years to win back-to-back Majors.
Nicklaus is not in the habit of making grand pronouncements, so his spectacular forecast for McIlroy should not be ignored, especially as he holds the record with 18 Majors. The pair have become close since McIlroy moved near to Nicklaus’s south Florida home and the old man has been impressed by his young friend’s progress to three Majors, capped with last month’s Open at Hoylake.
“Rory is an unbelievable talent,” Nicklaus told sports channel. “I think Rory has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 majors or whatever he wants to do if he wants to keep playing. I love his swing, I love his rhythm, I love his moxie. He’s got a little swagger there, it’s a little bit cocky but not offensive. I think he can break my record”
As Nicklaus designed Valhalla he is also well qualified to assess his chances this week. And he thinks the Louisville layout is made for McIlroy and his magical driver.
Nicklaus believes McIlroy’s booms will once again spell bust for his rivals and Colin Montgomerie is another veteran who has the utmost faith in the 25-year-old. “After the Open and last’s week WGC, Rory can make it three in a row here,” Montgomerie said, as he prepared for his first Major in four years. “If he plays well and stands on the 72nd green having felt as though he’s played well, then he’s your winner. That’s not to say the likes of Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler won’t push him. But, if he plays well, then he’s better than them — end of story.”
It could be the second chapter of the story. Never mind heading to Augusta focusing on McIlroy’s bid to become just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam, fans would be concentrating on his attempt to become just the second player to hold all four Majors at the same time.
However, fans should not get ahead of themselves here. As Montgomerie pointed out, there are some extremely proficient players hitting their peak and McIlroy may indeed have to drag the last drops out of his extraordinary well of talent to emulate Padraig Harrington’s Open-USPGA double of 2008. Garcia finished runner-up on the Wirral and in Akron, while Fowler’s Major form figures this season say it all — fifth, second, second.
Yet perhaps, from Montgomerie’s list, Scott and Rose pose the biggest threat. Since winning at Colonial in May, Scott has played five events and been in the top 10 five times, including a tie for ninth at the US Open and fifth at the Open.
Had he not been on the wrong side of the draw at Hoylake, he would have been even closer to McIlroy. On Tuesday, the Australian was gracious in conceding the world No. 1 tag to McIlroy. “The right guy is at No.1 at the moment,” Scott said.