Nicklaus said his rivalry with Palmer helped him.
“We competed hard against each other,” Nicklaus said at the PNC Father-Son Challenge. “We both felt it was healthy.”
Nicklaus believes a McIlroy-Woods rivalry would be a healthy kind, too.
“Tiger probably needs somebody to pop him a few times so he gets a chance to go pop it back,” Nicklaus said. “I think that's the way all sports work.
“It's kind of good for you to get drummed a couple times, and then all of a sudden you say, `I'm not getting drummed anymore. I'm going to go drum that guy back.’ That's sort of what rivalries are all about. They always want to win and the competition is fierce, so that's good.”
Nicklaus said he had lunch with McIlroy Thursday in South Florida, where McIlroy has purchased a home. Nicklaus was surprised how much muscle McIlroy has put on.
“He’s gotten a lot bigger,” Nicklaus said. “He’s been working out a lot. I said, `Don’t lift yourself out of your golf game.’”
Nicklaus said he invited McIlroy and his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, over to play tennis at his house. She's visiting McIlroy.
“You and I will be partners,” Nicklaus told McIlroy. “You can run, can't you? He said, `Yeah, but my strokes aren't very good.' I said, `Well, my strokes are all right but I can't run.’”