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Jack Nicklaus sent Rory McIlroy a pointed message whilst consoling the Northern Irishman at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday.
McIlroy was the overnight leader in Ohio but faded away as seven bogeys in an error-strewn final round left him back in seventh after a dismal three-over 75.
Viktor Hovland claimed his fourth PGA Tour title at Nicklaus’ tournament at Muirfield Village, but McIlroy will know he squandered a golden chance with a substandard final round.
He had been motivated by the prospect of being greeted as the champion by 18-time major winner Nicklaus on the final green, but was still met by the legendary host after his 72nd hole, albeit in anticlimactic circumstances.
Nicklaus, who said in the pre-tournament build-up that McIlroy’s nine-year major drought was a “mystery”, sought out the 33-year-old after his round ended on Sunday.
“We have to sit down and chat sometime,” he told the world No.3, in an exchange that was caught live on the air.
— Golf on CBS ⛳ (@GolfonCBS) June 4, 2023
McIlroy clearly appreciated Nicklaus’ warm embrace and it appears the duo could converse away from the TV cameras before the final two major tournaments of the year.
McIlroy will defend his Canadian Open crown in Toronto next week with problems to solve ahead of the upcoming US Open, despite another encouraging finish.
His approach game completely eluded him on Sunday as numerous missed greens with just wedge in hand caused his challenge to falter.
But McIlroy stayed upbeat despite missing out on a 24th PGA Tour win.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “I feel a little better about everything compared to where I was a couple weeks ago at Oak Hill.
“It’s obviously not the result that I wanted today, but I feel like there were a few more positives than there were a couple weeks ago.”
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