Nicklaus: Rory the man to beat

05 April 2018 10:54:42 EST

Six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus believes Rory McIlroy is the man to beat as the first Major of the season gets underway at Augusta National.

McIlroy is once more bidding to complete his career Grand Slam of golf's marquee events, something he's been unable to achieve in two previous attempts.

The Northern Irishman grabbed his first win since the 2016 Tour Championship last month at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Nicklaus feels the way he putted that week makes him the man to watch around Augusta.

McIlroy has posted top-ten finishes in each of the last four years at the Masters.

Of the majors a top player has a better shot here than any other place.

Jack Nicklaus

"I talked to him this weekend and saw a few things and he is really swinging well, the best I've ever seen him swing," Nicklaus said. "He obviously putted very well at Bay Hill so he's going to be tough to beat.

"If you picked anybody he'd be the number one to pick and rightly so. He's probably playing better than anyone else."

McIlroy has admitted that he feels a certain pressure in attempting to join the elite band of players to have won all four Major titles – he would emulate Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen should be manage it.

Nicklaus feels McIlroy, with four Majors under his belt, should not be concerned with Augusta ideal for his game and perhaps the title he should have the least worries about winning.

"You play it every year, you can prepare for it easier, once you play the greens you should know them," Nicklaus told the Golf Channel. "If you're not a long, high-ball player you can eliminate half the field before you even start.

"No tournament is easy to win, don't misunderstand me, but of the majors a top player has a better shot here than any other place."

McIlroy is 5/4 to win his day one three-ball at Augusta. Former champion Adam Scott is 11/4 while Spain's Jon Rahm is 13/8.

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