LONDON Twice major winner Tony Jacklin has urged Rory McIlroy to take a leaf out of world number one Adam Scott's book and keep his own counsel on some of his off-the-course issues.
Northern Irishman McIlroy, 25, has been the centre of attention in this week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth since announcing on Wednesday that he was calling off his planned wedding to leading Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki.
The couple played out their two-and-a-half year relationship in the glare of the worldwide media spotlight. Scott, by contrast, got married in secret last month to long-time girlfriend and Swedish architect Marie Kojzar.
The Australian said it was such a private occasion in the Bahamas that many of the guests did not even know about it in advance.
"Whatever happens to Rory in the future I think he needs to be a bit more like Adam Scott and not let on so much to the outside world," the 69-year-old Jacklin told Reuters in an interview on Friday.
"Maybe he needs to try and keep his private life more private. Hopefully though this is just a bump in the road for him.
"If it's the right decision it's behind him now. He can move on very quickly so it might not be a bad thing."
Jacklin was a similar age to former world number one McIlroy when he captured the attention of the international media by winning the 1969 British Open and 1970 U.S. Open.
One difference between the two men, however, is that the Englishman was immersed in a stable family environment during his early years as a sporting globetrotter, having married Northern Irishwoman Vivien at the age of 21.
Jacklin's home life in the 1960s was similar to that of his contemporaries, golfing greats like Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
"It's a wonderful thing for a golfer to meet someone you are compatible with early in your career," said Jacklin who is the ambassador for Glenmorangie, spirit of the British Open (www.glenmorangie.com/golf).
"I found Vivien, Jack found Barbara and Gary found Vivienne. We all married very young and it's almost like you get that part of your life out of the way, if you like.
SOMETHING OF A LONER
"I could've just drifted on but when you have the extra responsibility of a wife and family it gives you added impetus to do well. I thought that was a good thing in my day," added Jacklin, Europe's most successful Ryder Cup captain of all time.
"Going back all those years I was something of a loner in golf and you have to be to succeed. I got married at 21 and my wife was my companion, my confidant and my best friend and if Rory is not ready for that, he's not ready, it's as simple as that."
Jacklin's first wife died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage
in April 1988 and he later married Norwegian Astrid Waagen.
The Englishman said he had a lot of sympathy for the turmoil world number 10 McIlroy had gone through in the past 18 months.
"I just hope Rory is not too affected by all this," said Jacklin who led Europe to two Ryder Cup wins, one tie and one defeat. "Last year he was criticised for changing his clubs and I suppose he brought attention on to himself.
"He has also had the added factor of relocating to America. You can't be the number one player in the world living in Holywood, Northern Ireland.
"I'm sorry, it just doesn't work that way, so he had to do that," explained Jacklin.
"He's had to make quite a lot of adjustments to his life in a short period of time and every time you step on to the golf course you are always under the microscope so it's not easy for him."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)