• PGA Tour

Clarke: Rory could top Nicklaus

ESPN staff
November 21, 2012

Darren Clarke believes Rory McIlroy is set to pick up Tiger Woods' mantle as the man leading the chase for Jack Nicklaus' haul of 18 major titles.

World No. 1 McIlroy has some way to go after winning his second major at the US PGA Championship earlier this year, but his fellow Northern Irishman can see the 23-year-old collecting multiple majors over the coming seasons to put himself among the greats of the game.

Woods was seen as Nicklaus' heir apparent at the height of his powers, but it is now over four years since the American won the last of his 14 majors as age, injuries and problems in his private life have taken their toll.

"Tiger in his heyday was incredible to behold, but Rory does posses, as far as I'm concerned and from what I've seen, almost as much talent as Tiger did," Clarke said.

"It will be very interesting, as Rory matures and gets older and he starts racking up those majors, how far he goes."

Clarke was less enthused about his own year, with the highs receiving an OBE from the Queen on Wednesday and helping Europe retain the Ryder Cup as a vice-captain tempered by falling a dizzying 89 places to No. 138 in the world just a year after winning The Open in 2011. But the 44-year-old vowed to bounce back in 2013.

"The year's been wonderful off the golf course but not so good on the golf course, but that goes with our job - sometimes it's good sometimes it's bad," Clarke added. "I'd be lying if I said I've enjoyed playing poorly because I haven't, such is our game and our profession.

'I'll keep working away, working away, working away. Probably not many people would have given me much chance of winning The Open last time and I'd be delighted to prove them wrong again."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.