Rory McIlroy happy to absorb the lessons of the last 18 months
He also reveals the alcoholic concoction that first graced the Claret Jug trophy in the wake of his British Open triumph
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy with the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
“I like his swagger. I like the way he handles himself. I like his desire to be great. I like his desire to do the things he needs to do. I like that in a young guy. He’s cocky in a nice way.”
Today, on Sean O’Rourke’s radio show on RTE, the presenter read out the quote from Nicklaus, in the shadow of whose record of 18 Majors all professional golfers live, to McIlroy, who had been oblivious to the homily.
The 25 year old Northern Irishman admitted: “Jack and Barbara Nicklaus sent me a very nice note, a nice email straight afterwards. I am not sure what he said in public but I got a nice email in private.
“If you are cocky in a nice way I guess that’s a good thing. The Nickalus’ has been very good to me over the last few years. I have a great relationship with them. For someone like Jack to say that about me is the highest compliment. “
McIlroy offered a brief snapshot into the Sunday night celebrations that included an alcoholic cocktail that’s probably never before been in the famous Claret Jug trophy. “It’s a funny story. Obviously with all the media engagements you have to do after you win it seems that my friends and family started without me; I wasn’t the first to drink out of it.
“They thought it would be appropriate to put some Jagermeister in from the start. That’s why it went in. I definitely had a couple of sips from it throughout the night. Last night was only Champagne. We put some good, expensive stuff in it and that’s how it’ll stay from now on. It’s a liqueur. It’s quite popular with Red Bull. We had a bit of Jagermeister and a bit of Red Bull.”
On a golfing front he spoke first about his desire to try and extend his winning streak through the season’s fourth Major in Kentucky next month and also how his calm exterior during Sunday’s final round hid churning emotions.
“Augusta (US Masters) next year will be big because it is the only one that I haven’t won but there is a Major coming round in three weeks time, the (US) PGA at Valhalla. I feel like I am in great form and want to win that, get as many Majors onto the tally as possible, while I am playing well.”
In reference to demeanour during that final round McIlroy conceded: “There were times when I was churning but I am glad that people thought I kept a composed and relaxed exterior because it definitely wasn’t how I was feeling inside at times.”
He also spoke about what has been a tumultuous period in his young life on and off the course. “It has been a big 18 months in my life. There’s a lot that’s gone on, on and off the golf course. (There’s been) an equipment change, things in my personal life, management change (too); there’s been a lot going on.
“The one constant that’s always been there is my golf. That’s what I have gone back to, my main focus. What’s really important to me…..there’s only a limited amount of time you have as a career at the top level and I want to make the most of it.
“It has definitely been a learning process these 18 months. I am more mature, not as naïve and I have learnt a lot of lessons in that time. Hopefully it has made me a stronger person.”