DUBLIN, Ohio -- It's often said that today's players don't know how to work the ball, playing instead with a "bomb and gouge" mentality. On Tuesday afternoon at the Memorial Tournament, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose disproved that theory with a spectacular display of shotmaking during Jack Nicklaus's annual clinic in front of a packed grandstand at Muirfield Village.
Nicklaus, in a shirt and tie, served as master of ceremonies. He invited each pro to hit a different club and shared his thoughts and tips for the fans. Not only did the players have to do what Nicklaus ordered -- high draw, low punch, sweeping hook -- they also had to trade barbs with the 18-time major champion.
First up was McIlroy. Before the 22-year-old Northern Irishman pounded drivers to the delight of the crowd, Nicklaus set him up by saying, "Imagine you're coming down 18 at Augusta ..." The crowd erupted in laughter, remembering that McIlroy lost a four-shot lead at the Masters earlier this year.
Nicklaus didn't get all of the laughs, however. As Schwartzel, the reigning Masters champion, was about to hit a pitching wedge, he looked up at Nicklaus and said, "I don't know why I am doing this. I've only won one Masters. I need you to show me how to win another five."
"If you're having trouble once you get your third or fourth Masters, let me know and I'll show you how to do it," Nicklaus joked back.
The most impressive display was put on by 22-year-old Rickie Fowler, who strutted onto the driving range with a 4-iron. Before Nicklaus could tell him what type of shot to hit, Fowler turned around to the audience and said, "What do you guys want to see?"
"Big hook!" someone shouted.
"Big hook? That's Bubba [Watson]," Fowler said. "He can hit a hook."
Of course, Fowler still obliged the fan.
"Now that's what you want," Nicklaus said as Fowler's ball hooked across the driving range.
After the defending champion, Justin Rose, pured several 7-iron shots, many fans were getting ready to leave, thinking the clinic was over, but Nicklaus wasn't through.
"Does anyone have any questions they'd like answered?" Nicklaus asked the crowd. "We can talk about anything you want to talk about."
Despite his shirt and tie, and the 92-degree heat, Nicklaus took questions from the audience for 25 more minutes.
"Jack did you ever go to the gym when you were young?" one fan asked.
"Do I look like it?" Nicklaus said to roaring laughter.
The 18-time major champion continued to take questions and share his tips for the amateur golfers in the crowd before he had to return to his hosting duties and attend a meeting.
On this day, Nicklaus was able to wow the crowd without hitting a shot.