Nicklaus issues note of caution on McIlroy

“Don’t anoint him as the crown prince yet,” warned golf legend Jack Nicklaus even as he predicted many more major titles for US Open champion Rory Mcllroy.

Nicklaus, who is considered the most successful player in golf with 18 major titles, sees Irishman Mcllroy at the top of the golfing world in the years to come. Mcllroy initially led the Masters in April until an 80 in the closing round dimmed his chances. He did not however let this disappointment affect his performance in the US Open last month and proceeded to leave his rivals behind with an eight-shot lead.

“I think Rory will add a lot of majors,” Nicklaus told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme.

“Rory is a very talented young man who’s been a factor in every one of the majors over the last year.

“He could have won the Masters and the US Open, he could have won the British Open last year. He’s a talented young man we’re going to see on the scene for a long time.”

However, Nicklaus cautioned that it was too early to judge the 22-year old Mcllroy as a future dominant figure I the world of golf.

“Don’t anoint him as the crown prince yet,” Nicklaus said.

“He has won one major.

“When he starts to win two, three or four, then you can say he’s the guy we’ve got to watch, period.

“But until that time comes, he’s one of a group of talented players that have got an opportunity to win.”

Ian Poulter, who was the Ryder Cup team-mate of Mcllroy, said he expects Mcllroy to show the stuff he is made of during Thursday’s Open Championship at Royal St. George.

“His form can only be good – he won the US Open the last time he played,” said Poulter.

“There’s going to be lot of media attention around him, not only from the US Open but there’ll be a lot of pressure on him to deliver again at the Open.

“But he’ll be in great form.

“He’s a naturally good ball-striker and he’s going to be ready to go and hungry to try to win.”

Golfing fans the world over will notice the absence of 14-time major winner Tiger Woods who said he will deal with his injury problems first before he goes back to compete.

Nicklaus and Poulter both expect the return of Woods to challenge the world rankings again in golf’s biggest tournaments. Nicklaus however doubts if his fellow American would be able to pass his own total.

“If it continues the way it’s going this year, yes,” was his answer when asked if such possibility is unlikely.

“But he’s a very determined and talented young man and I think he’s determined to get himself healthy. He’s still plenty young enough to play a lot of good golf.

“I think you’ll see a lot from Tiger. Whether he overhauls my record or not it will be interesting to watch.”

Poulter however Woods would be able to re-establish his place at the top of the ranks even without being very formidable.

“If Tiger Woods comes back fit and healthy and is 50% as good as he was, that’s still good enough to be world number one,” Poulter said.

“He had at his best peak time twice as many points as anyone in the world ranking.

“Whether he’s got his best years to come I’m not quite so sure.

“Injuries like that and taking as much time off as they do I’m sure takes its toll.

“But I would expect Tiger to come back fit and healthy and be in some pretty good form.”