Nicklaus, like everyone else, is watching to see if McIlroy will close the deal in this 111th U.S. Open. Nicklaus, on his website Saturday, revealed that McIlroy quizzed him on how to close out victories over lunch at the Honda Classic last year.
“We sat for about an hour and half, and we talked about his game, the things to do, and how to finish golf tournaments,” Nicklaus said. “We talked about the things I did when I was playing. He was worried about that he couldn’t finish and couldn’t win. I said not to worry about it. Instead of shooting 36 or 37 the last nine holes, one day you’ll shoot 32 or 33 and win. It’ll just happen. Keep playing; keep your nose to the grindstone. You don’t have to try to push something to happen. One day it will just happen, if you keep working at it and trying. Just believe in yourself, play within yourself, understand yourself, understand what you can do, and do what you can do. That was the basic message.'
This week McIlroy said he met briefly with Nicklaus at the Memorial, after McIlroy’s final-round collapse at The Masters. Nicklaus touched on that conversation on his website: “I just said, ‘I’m sure that you learned from your mistakes and what happened. Don’t worry about that. We all make mistakes.' All good players have to make mistakes before they can have successes. Sometimes it’s better to have mistakes, because if you only have success and don’t make mistakes along the way, all of a sudden if you make mistakes, you can’t figure out why you made them.'
Nicklaus said he reminded McIlroy that even the world’s best players are haunted by some failures.
“I would hope he learned from his mistakes,” Nicklaus said. “Our conversation at the Memorial was very brief. But I remember we did talk about [Tom] Watson and the mistakes he made early in his career and how he came back and learned how to win. I did the same thing at the British Open in 1963 at Lytham. I figured out why I did those things, what I tried to do and shouldn’t have done. I have kicked myself for almost 50 years for blowing that tournament. But I knew why I did it. So I hope that I learned from it. That was my question to him. You made some mistakes and I hope you figured out why you made those mistakes, why you did something that didn’t follow what you normally do.”
Nicklaus said he like McIlroy’s moxie.
'He's a nice young man,' Nicklaus said. 'I like him a lot.'