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John Locher Rory McIlroy walks into the players tunnel on the 17th hole yesterday.
# Future Proof
Nicklaus: McIlroy can win '15 or 20 majors'
“I love his swing, I love his rhythm, I love his moxie.”

JACK NICKLAUS SAYS Rory McIlroy’s form is no flash in the pan, after the Northern Irishman reclaimed the top ranking.

McIlroy, 25, has won three tournaments since May after enduring 18 trophy-less months, with the Northern Irishman claiming the BMW PGA Championship, The Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The win at Hoylake was McIlroy’s third major of his career, and all-time major leader Nicklaus – with 18 – said he is tipping his fellow Florida resident could surpass him in time.

McIlroy is a red-hot favourite to win his fourth major this week, when the PGA Championship tees off at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I think Rory is an unbelievable talent,” Nicklaus told ESPN. ”I love his swing, I love his rhythm, I love his moxie. He’s got a little swagger there, it’s a little bit cocky but not offensive. I like that. I like the self-confidence in a young man.

“He’s got an unbelievable amount of speed in his golf swing, he obviously hits the ball a heck of a long way. And he hits in there consistently and how he controls it.”

Nicklaus said the choice was McIlroy’s to pursue the record of most majors, however he was wary the Irishman may lose interest in later life.

“It depends on what he feels his priorities are, and that’s his call,” the 74-year-old said. ”I think Rory has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 majors or whatever he wants to do if he wants to keep playing.

“But you just don’t know what the guy’s priorities are going to be in life 10 years from now.”

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Champions Tour Golf Paul Battaglia Star attraction: Jack Nicklaus signs autographs. Paul Battaglia

On Tiger Woods, who is a confirmed starter for the year’s final major despite experiencing more back troubles, Nicklaus said the 14-time major winner had plenty of time to overhaul his record.

However, the six-time Masters winner said it would be a shame if the only thing stopping Woods from breaking records was injury.

“He certainly has at least another 10 years of playing major-championships golf,” Nicklaus said.

“That’s 40 – at least 40 – majors to win. I believe Tiger will do that if his health remains good. Nobody ever wants their records broken, that’s obvious.

“But I don’t want him to not break the records because he’s not healthy. That’s certainly not in the cards of what I would like to see. Or what anybody would like to see.”

Tiger arrives at Valhalla on PGA Championship eve determined to play