And Jack even picked up the tab

DORAL, Fla. – Don’t know what Rory McIlroy had for lunch on Tuesday at Doral, but whatever he had, and wherever he had it, it’s guaranteed to fall short of his Tuesday lunch of a week ago.

While at the Honda Classic last week, a friend of a member of McIlroy’s management firm set up the 20-year-old to have lunch with Jack Nicklaus at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter. And McIlroy made the most of the hour and a half he shared with the Golden Bear.

“I just wanted to pick his brain,” said the young Northern Irishman.

About what?

“Everything,” said McIlroy with a smile. “It was really interesting.”

McIlroy wanted to ask Nicklaus about his approach to winning and what went through his head when he was in contention. Nicklaus told McIlroy that the very best tournament he ever played did not produce a victory. That would be Turnberry in 1977, when Tom Watson edged Jack in the famous Duel in the Sun. But Nicklaus said there were other times when he didn’t play his best and still walked away with the trophy.

“His mindset to winning was completely different than I thought it would be,” McIlroy said. “A lot of times, he waited for you to make a mistake. He had a lot more majors handed to him than he went out and won.”

McIlroy, who will play this week’s WGC-CA Championship at Doral, said the lunch was the best 90 minutes he’d ever spent.

He admitted he was a tad nervous at first upon learning of the meeting, but soon the questions came rolling off his tongue. Among one of the better lessons he gleaned: Patience.

“Learn to wait and bide your time and know that if you believe in yourself, that it will happen," he said. "It will happen one of these days, so it’s just a matter of waiting and staying patient,” he said.

After playing Doral, McIlroy is headed north to Georgia, where he plans to play 72 holes at Augusta National Monday-Wednesday. If it sounds like a lot of golf for a player who has been nursing a bad back, remember this: It’s Augusta, the Masters is a month away, and the kid is 20. He’ll probably end up playing more than 72 holes, too.

“I’m sure I’ll go around the Par 3 (course) a few times, too,” said McIlroy, who plans to get the full Augusta National experience by staying in one of the cabins – possibly the Butler Cabin, where Masters champions go for their championship interviews early Sunday evening.

Oh to be young again.

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