After Rory McIlroy’s British Open success he now has Jack Nicklaus’ Major winning record firmly within his sights and the 18-time winner believes that he has all the tools to be one of the greats.
Nicklaus’ unprecedented Major haul was expected to be beaten by Tiger Woods, but the great American has stalled on 14 wins and his lack of form in recent times has meant that his chances of beating the record now look bleak.
The next real challenger to reach the feat is McIlroy. The Northern Irishman is still only 25, but already has three Major wins under his belt and only needs to be victorious at the US Masters at some point in the future to complete the career grand slam.
Destroyed the field
McIlroy has been a known talent for years now, but his performance at the Open last week was still mighty impressive – as he destroyed the field over the first three days, establishing a six shot lead, before cruising to victory over the final 18 holes.
It was a display of a man who knows just how talented he is and a player who is rapidly establishing himself as the number one in the world at this present moment in time, even if his current ranking does not reflect that.
Career progressing nicely
And Nicklaus believes that McIlroy’s success is set to continue for some time yet.
"I think his career is progressing very nicely and I think he's going to win a lot of Major championships,” Nicklaus said.
“I love his swagger. I love his demeanor. I love the way he sort of has a confident cockiness yet not offensive with it.”
It was that confidence that saw him through on the Sunday of the Open. In 2011, McIlroy had shown frailties after leading heading into the final day of the Masters and choked on the back-nine, allowing his lead to slip.
On Sunday, he was assured and composed proving he is a different player to what he was three years ago – even if his form did take a turn for the worse during last season.
This year, however, he has looked back to his best apart even if the occasional “Freaky Friday” (how McIlroy described his poor second-rounds) has occurred.
That wasn’t on display at the year’s third Major, though, and McIlroy admits that things off the course, as well as on it, have changed in recent times.
“It’s funny, I’d be recognised but I had no problem walking around Belfast in the weeks before the Open,” he said. “But I’ve notice a huge change even in the few days since Hoylake.
“I’m getting stopped all the time, cars beeping, people pointing their phones in your face and clicking and generally not being able to do anything.”
It is a change that he might have to get used to. In McIlroy’s burgeoning career he has already achieved more than most golfers will in a lifetime, but Nicklaus is only saying what most of the golfing world feel when he states that more success is due.
In McIlroy’s first press-conference after winning the claret jug he stated about his intentions of completing his grand-slam next year.
There is a craving in him for victory that sets him apart from the rest and it is this desire which will mean that he is only going to be filling his trophy cabinet up with more silverware in the future.
He may be starting to get mobbed now, but he better adapt to it swiftly as he is only going to become more noticeable in the future.