The last person Rory McIlroy expected to bump into after penning a letter saying ‘Sorry’ to Jack Nicklaus was the 18-time Major winner himself.
McIlroy had signed his name to a letter advising Nicklaus he will not be able to contest next month’s Memorial tournament at Muirfield Village outside of Dublin, Ohio.
It will be the first occasion McIlroy will miss the June 4 commencing event since making his debut by finishing 10th in 2010 and a month after his maiden PGA Tour success at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy will tee up in today’s starting Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in what is the third of five straight events including next week’s BMW PGA at Wentworth and then following week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal Country Down.
The Memorial is scheduled for the week after the Irish Open, from June 4 to 7, but McIlroy has indicated to Nicklaus that he needs time off before heading back to the West Coast and the June 18th commencing US Open.
“I thought it was right to write to him given Jack’s stature in the game to say I wasn’t playing the Memorial but then I bumped into him at the Bears Club on Monday,” said McIlroy.
“The first thing he said to me was that he’d received my letter and I said to him that I wanted to write to you rather than phone or just advise the Tour, so he seemed pretty taken back to get my letter and that made me also feel good.
“I have played the Memorial every year since coming over here so he was happy and I told him I’m already looking forward to the event next year.”
And if you thought McIlroy has had his feet up since finishing eighth last week behind good friend, Rickie Fowler at the Players, then you’re mistaken.
“I played 18 holes at the Bears Club on Monday and then nine holes Tuesday which was nice but it’s been a nice couple of days to be sleeping in my own bed,” he said.
“I find it’s important these days to get back home as often as my schedule will allow and then to be able to fly up here to Charlotte on a Wednesday morning is great because this is the third of five events I will play, and with the next two at Wentworth and then the Irish Open at Royal County Down.
“So this is a long stretch for me and the more time I can spend like out of the whole scene that goes with being on the Tour the better as far as I am concerned.”
Joining McIlroy this week is Pádraig Harrington, who is making his eighth start in the $7.1m event with his best finish being tied seventh in 2010 behind McIlroy.
“This week is a vastly different challenge than last week with different grass tee to green and a much longer golf course,” he said.
“The course is a lot more open and even though you might hit into trees you will see a lot more recovery this week, and hopefully not as many disasters this week as we saw at the Players.
“But then in saying that the last three holes, ‘The Green Mile’ — the par four 16th, par three 17th and par 4 18th are the toughest on the PGA Tour and I’m shocked at that.”
Pádraig Harrington – 12.50pm (Irish); Rory McIlroy 6.20pm (Irish)
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