Rory McIlroy has pulled out of Jack Nicklaus's tournament, the Memorial. A recent rib injury has sidelined him from recent tournaments.McIlroy is trying to heal as much as possible for the U.S.Open. Other notable withdrawals include Justin Rose and Paul Casey. Rose won his first ever tournament at the Memorial. Rose was nursing an ailing back while Casey has a nagging foot injury that won't seem to heal.
Before the tournament, Nicklaus said McIlroy reached out to him and let him know why he wasn't playing.
Asked by reporters about McIlroy, Nicklaus responded that it's so much easier for players to withdraw compared to when he, Gary Player, and Arnold Palmer battled each other for wins on the Tour. He also said he voiced his concerns with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.
"You think I had any injuries when I played?" Nicklaus asked. "Do you think Arnold had any injuries when he played?Do you think Gary had any injuries when he played?How many tournaments do you think that we entered that we withdrew from during the course of our career?" He then made the hand signal for zero. He said, "Never entered if I wasn't going to play."
Nicklaus said one reason they never withdrew from tournaments back then was the low purse money. In 1965 Nicklaus was the leading money winner on the PGA Tour when he earned $140,752 for the whole year. This year's U.S.Open winner will take home just under $2.2 million dollars from one tournament.
When asked if he thought these same players would be withdrawing so much if it were 30 years ago. Nicklaus replied, "Probably not, because that wasn't the norm.We played through it.We had a ton of injuries and I played through it.But that's sort of the norm today.I made my own decisions.I didn't have an entourage.I didn't have a fitness trainer.I didn't have a nutritionist, whatever you all have somebody to cut my toenails in the morning.I didn't have any of that.I did that myself."
Nicklaus continued, "I think that entourage helps make that decision for the player, telling them, 'We think physically this is probably not right for you to play.' And that's what their job is."
Nicklaus finished by saying, "The U.S.Open is a big thing in his [McIlroy's] career, and I sort of thought the Memorial Tournament was, too.And he supported us.He'll come to play every year he can." Though he sympathized with McIlroy about the rib injury, Nicklaus said it's annoying for spectators and tournament officials when someone withdraws.
"Jack Nicklaus at The Masters" by Torrey Willey