Nicklaus plays down expectations for McIlroy

American golf great Jack Nicklaus believes it’s too early to

describe Rory McIlroy as the sport’s next superstar.

The column inches have stacked up for the 22-year-old McIlroy

since he swept to his first major title by winning the U.S. Open at

Congressional by eight shots last month.

Many have predicted a new era of dominance from the Northern

Irishman, filling the void left by the injury-plagued Tiger Woods,

but Nicklaus sounded a note of caution ahead of next week’s British

Open at Sandwich.

”Don’t anoint him as the crown prince yet,” Nicklaus told the

BBC on Sunday. ”He has won one major. When he starts to win two,

three or four, then you can say he’s the guy we’ve got to watch,

period.

”But until that time comes, he’s one of a group of talented

players that have got an opportunity to win.”

Not only has No.4-ranked McIlroy won just one major, he has only

captured three tournaments in his nascent professional career.

Nicklaus, the record 18-time major winner, expects that tally to

soar.

”I think Rory will add a lot of majors,” Nicklaus said. ”Rory

is a very talented young man who’s been a factor in every one of

the majors over the last year.

”He could have won the Masters and (last year’s) U.S. Open, he

could have won the British Open last year. He’s a talented young

man we’re going to see on the scene for a long time.”

While McIlroy heads to Royal St. George’s as outright favorite

with the British bookmakers to land the year’s third major, Woods

is resting up after failing to recover from injuries to his left

knee and Achilles’ tendon.

It has been nearly two months since Woods last played – he

withdrew after nine holes from The Players Championship in mid-May

– and has slipped to No. 17 in the world. He is without a

tournament win since 2009 and the chances of increasing his tally

of 14 majors to challenge Nicklaus’ record haul are fading.

But Nicklaus says there’s life in his 35-year-old countryman

yet.

”He’s a very determined and talented young man, and I think

he’s determined to get himself healthy,” he said. ”He’s still

plenty young enough to play a lot of good golf. I think you’ll see

a lot from Tiger.

”Whether he overhauls my record or not, it will be interesting

to watch.”