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Nicklaus: McIlroy needs better preparation for U.S. Open

By Gary Morley, CNN
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1433 GMT (2233 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jack Nicklaus tells Rory McIlroy to spend more time at U.S. Open venue
  • World No. 2 struggling to find form ahead of his title defense next week
  • Northern Irishman visited Olympic Club after missing cut at Nicklaus' Memorial
  • Nicklaus says McIlroy needs to learn from both his successes and failures

(CNN) -- When Jack Nicklaus gives you advice, it pays to listen. Rory McIlroy did so last year, and he won his first major tournament.

Now, having missed three cuts in a row ahead of his U.S. Open title defense next week, the world No. 2 has again acted on the wisdom of one of golf's greatest champions.

McIlroy had intended to pay his first visit to the host course, San Francisco's Olympic Club, just days before the season's second major tees off.

But after a joint interview with Nicklaus, hosted by Shane O'Donoghue of CNN's Living Golf show, the 23-year-old decided to go there early and use the free window that opened up when he missed the weekend action at the Memorial Tournament run by the "Golden Bear."

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McIlroy had planned to go straight from Muirfield Village to Memphis for this week's St. Jude Classic in the hope that more competitive play would help restore the form that has made him the world's most exciting young player.

But it was Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 major titles and joined by Tiger Woods on Sunday in second place on the PGA Tour roll of honor with 73 victories, pointed him in the right direction.

"My wife has always had a statement, which is: 'There is no excuse for not being prepared,' " the 72-year-old said.

"I know that there were times when I wasn't prepared and I got exactly what I deserved -- nothing."

Woods revealed after his victory on Sunday that he had visited Olympic before the Memorial, and that it had been perfect preparation.

"Not to disparage the Memphis tournament, but nobody remembers who won last year in Memphis. They do remember who won last year's U.S. Open. We will never forget that," Nicklaus said.

After self-destructing in the final round at last year's Masters, McIlroy turned to Nicklaus for advice.

"I said it is really important to know what happened and that you understand what happened to you and that you will try not to make the same mistakes," Nicklaus said.

"I said that I had given away a U.S. Open where Arnold (Palmer) won, I gave away a British Open by not knowing how to win and I gave away another U.S. Open not knowing how to win -- but I learned from it.

"Then he went right on to win a U.S. Open and absolutely blitz the field. I dropped him a note saying that you obviously learned something in Augusta, but more important did you learn something from your win?

"The two are a combination and are very important to his career. He has a great, great future in front of him."

McIlroy won by eight shots at Congressional, setting the lowest score in U.S. Open history as he smashed the previous best total set by Nicklaus, Woods, Lee Janzen and Jim Furyk.

Rory McIlroy has risen to the top of golf's world rankings after winning the Honda Classic in Florida on Sunday. It caps a remarkable rise for the 22-year-old Northern Irishman in recent years. Here he is as a 14-year-old playing at the Boys Home Internationals at the Royal St David's Golf Club in Wales in August 2003. Rory McIlroy has risen to the top of golf's world rankings after winning the Honda Classic in Florida on Sunday. It caps a remarkable rise for the 22-year-old Northern Irishman in recent years. Here he is as a 14-year-old playing at the Boys Home Internationals at the Royal St David's Golf Club in Wales in August 2003.
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"I know Jack always went to the tournament's venue a week before and spent four or five days there to prepare," McIlroy acknowledged.

"I think the reason that he won many more majors than anyone else was because he prepared more than anyone else.

"You know when he stood on the first tee on Thursday he felt like he was better prepared than anyone else -- that in itself gives you confidence."

Time will tell if McIlroy's last-minute change of plans will solve his problems, but Nicklaus is confident that the Northern Irishman will soon be back on track.

"Rory right now is worrying how he is going to put that back together, but we all go through it," he said.

"I had the same problems. I went from 1967 to 1970 right in the prime of my career without winning a major. And you know I just found that I was probably lazy, I had too much success, I hadn't worked hard enough to prepare myself.

"I just worked myself out of it, then in 1970 I had success at the British Open and I was back again."

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