Jack Nicklaus defends Rory McIlroy

2016 08 Jack Nicklaus

• Nicklaus backs Rory over 'grow the game' comments'
• "When I was playing, I wasn't into growing it either"
• Also backs down over criticism of Olympic absentees

JACK NICKLAUS | RORY McILROY

Jack Nicklaus has defended Rory McIlroy over comments he made during the Open Championship about not feeling a responsibility to ‘grow the game’.

Asked at Royal Troon whether he felt that he had ‘let the game down’ by withdrawing from the Olympics, the four-time major winner said that it hadn’t been a difficult decision for him.

Read more -> Rory McIlroy twists knife in Olympic golf

“I didn't get into golf to try and grow the game,” said McIlroy. “I got into golf to win championships and win major championships, and all of a sudden you get to this point and there is a responsibility on you to grow the game, and I get that. But at the same time that's not the reason that I got into golf. I got into golf to win. I didn't get into golf to get other people into the game.”

CONTINUES BELOW...

Rory-McIlroy_170307_153837.jpg#asset:138280

Those comments prompted some criticism of the Northern Irishman, particularly on social media.

However, addressing the media ahead of this week’s US Senior Open, 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus said he understood where McIlroy was coming from.

Read more -> Olympic growth 'b******t' says Wilkie

“When I was playing the game, I wasn't into growing it either,” said Nicklaus. “Did I play a lot of places? Sure. And by playing a lot of places that helped to grow the game. But I was there to win, not grow.

“I think when Rory said he was not into growing the game, he was into playing the game. Well, I look back at it. I mean, I'm past playing the game. My game is gone. My focus on the game of golf now is to grow the game they are into playing.”

CONTINUES BELOW...

Olympics_170307_153916.jpg#asset:138281

Nicklaus also revealed that he has softened his stance on the decision by many of the game’s top players to skip golf’s return to the Olympic Games, which gets underway in Rio today.

“I was a little critical of the guys to start with,” he said. “I thought it might have been selfish of them not to go. Then I started looking at that, and it is not the pinnacle of their sport. It's a pretty awkward time of year because they just got their major championships. And, of course, then they have also the Zika problem.

"I think a gold medal would be something I would really treasure" - Jack Nicklaus

“So I can understand where they are, and I think I was probably wrong on that. I think that the guys today and gals that are playing, I think they'll have a great event. They'll have great fun. One of them is going to walk off with a gold medal which they'll treasure the rest of their lives.

“Would I have loved to have been an Olympian? Would I have loved to play golf in the Olympics? Yes, I would have loved to do that. Even though the pinnacle of your sport may not be that, I think a gold medal would be something I would really treasure.”

"I look at the Olympics as a way to grow the game, particularly in areas where the game is not mature" - Jack Nicklaus

Nicklaus added: “I look at the Olympics as a way to grow the game, particularly in areas where the game is not mature, areas such as Brazil, such as Russia, such as China, such as India, places where the game has barely started.

“It would be a shame to lose it because I think it has the opportunity to grow the sports in those countries, which to me only enhances what happens with the game of golf.”

Jack Nicklaus on Rory - your thoughts

Do you agree with Jack Nicklaus that the criticism of Rory McIlroy over his 'grow the game' comments were unfair? Or do you have a different opinion? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.

Share this Article

share-logo
twitter-logo facebook-logo

Latest Videos See all videos right arrow

play button
CALLAWAY MAVRIK DRIVERS - Should one of these be your new driver?
Callaway
play button
MAVRIK vs EPIC FLASH – Is Callaway’s new driver longer???
Callaway
play button
REVIEW – TAYLORMADE SIM vs SIM MAX
TaylorMade
play button
NEW TAYLORMADE SIM DRIVERS – Why you NEED to try them
TaylorMade
See all videos right arrow

Golf News

WATCH – The best hole-in-one you’ll ever see!
David Scott "excited" to take the reins at Dumbarnie Links
Report: Cameron Smith warned by PGA Tour over Reed comments
Brooks Koepka has PERFECT response to DeChambeau jibe
WATCH - Rickie Fowler surprises golfers as "Undercover Caddie"

Other Top Stories

Tiger Woods puts new irons in the bag
New Fife golf course gets go ahead
REVIEW - Adare Manor, Ireland's rejuvenated masterpiece
Win a spot in the ASI Scottish Open Pro-Am with Hilton
Padraig Harrington targets 2020 Ryder Cup captaincy

Quick Fault 'n' Fixes See all videos right arrow

play button
Don’t shift your weight off the ball
Watch
play button
Make a bigger shoulder turn
Watch
play button
Strengthen the clubface at impact
Callaway
play button
The correct grip will make your swing more consistent
Watch
See all videos right arrow