September 25th, 2012
04:26 PM ET

McIlroy to hunt down Woods at Medinah?

Rory McIlroy (left) and Tiger Woods were paired together at last weekend's Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy (left) and Tiger Woods were paired together at last weekend's Tour Championship.

While both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy fell by the wayside during Sunday's final round at the Tour Championship - on current form there's no doubt which player carries more momentum into the Ryder Cup, and Tiger Woods knows it.

Prior to the Tour Championship, former world No. 1 Woods jokingly called current incumbent McIlroy "the great intimidator".

But during that pre-tournament press conference at East Lake, it appeared Woods was simply not comfortable with even talking about the game's top-ranked player.

He avoided getting into a debate triggered by comments from Australian great Greg Norman, who said he believed McIlroy has the capacity to intimidate Woods.

Tiger retorted with a quip about Rory's coiffure. “It must be the hair," he replied, in reference to the Northern Irishman’s resplendent locks.

This is a fantastic rivalry for golf - and the game needs it. The young pretender versus the sport's storied 14-time major winner.

The two are reasonably friendly as rivals go and seem to talk during rounds. It is apparent there is a mutual respect and fondness.

In contrast a lot of top professionals barely utter a word to each other during play as they are totally focused on their game.

That is right and proper of course, but a little friendly camaraderie every once in while wouldn't go amiss.

It is highly unlikely Woods is intimidated by McIlroy and the Northern Irishman has confirmed that himself.

But it is worth posing the question whether Woods wishes he was 23 again, with the golfing world at his feet.

The American right-hander will turn 37 later this year and while there is still time for him to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record haul of 18 major wins - has he the consistency?

That elusive quality is something that Rory has mastered - especially in the last few months.

Winning the PGA Championship in South Carolina really kick-started his year; he was going for his third straight win on the PGA Tour at East Lake.

Not that Woods hasn’t been in good form. If McIlroy hadn't been around in recent weeks, Tiger could well have scooped up more silverware.

But as the focus shifts to the Ryder Cup in Illinois, what a fascinating scenario it would be if it all came down to Tiger versus Rory in Sunday’s final singles pairing.

Woods’ Ryder Cup record is not the best - he's only played in one winning U.S. team - and it is clear that's something he wants to change.

The good news for Europe is they have the hottest player in golf amid their ranks - a player universally liked, feared, respected and admired.

Woods referred to him as a "kid" at East Lake. The problem Woods and team USA have right now is this "kid" seems to be a fast learner who is only going to get better and better and he is playing a type of golf way beyond his tender years.

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. andy

    Golf's changing of the guard! Don't think they'll meet at Ryder Cup but I would go for Tiger win in front of home fans!

    September 26, 2012 at 2:04 am | Reply
  2. Kevin

    Pprobably will be kept apart as Rory both players statisticaly are more likely to clock up points against less in form players.
    Think that Rory will do really well as his putting and on course demeanour have much improved, and he will need all his composure under the Medinah hammer.
    Looking forward to the Cup, except for the awful attire of the European team. Would someone please learn to dress these multimillionaire stars in something close to sartorial elegance. Bright orange, maybe Ricky Fowler paid for them, if he was miffed at not being picked, so he could blind his fellow countymen.
    Sincerely hope the players treat each other with dignnity.

    September 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  3. Kevin

    Pprobably will be kept apart as both players statisticaly are more likely to clock up points against less in form players.
    Think that Rory will do really well as his putting and on course demeanour have much improved, and he will need all his composure under the Medinah hammer.
    Looking forward to the Cup, except for the awful attire of the European team. Would someone please learn to dress these multimillionaire stars in something close to sartorial elegance. Bright orange, maybe Ricky Fowler paid for them, if he was miffed at not being picked, so he could blind his fellow countymen.
    Sincerely hope the players treat each other with dignnity.

    September 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  4. Shane

    I read about how McIlroy tore into some poor reporter because he didn't like the reporter's coverage of him. I don't believe he will EVER be as good as Tiger. He's doing well now, but it won't last. And with his looks, he better put away some money now because acting's not in his future. GO USA!

    September 26, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  5. aavant

    What a NOTHING article!! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that Rory played better over the past couple of months and, either you don't understand sarcasm or you deliberately ignored it to serve your agenda. And, who doesn't wish they were 23 again, especially Tiger Woods?! BTW, I am sure you're aware that Woods outscored Rory in 4 of the 5 rounds they played head-to-head.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  6. randy

    I do believe we might see tig vs Mc toe to toe this weekend.My money will be on Mcilroy.Tiger in my opinion still has more skill more tuned and polished skills than young Rory,but Tiger has shown me no signs yet that he is over the nightmare that was his private life gone public.Goes to show you how utterly draining golf at this level can be on ones psyche.If his personal life would have stayed personal (of course it would help if he understood loyalty and commitment a lot better).I believe that ther would be no discussion about who is # 1 and Tiger wouls most likey have at least 2 more majors on his mantle.Just my opinion.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Reply
  7. char carver

    The Ryder cup is the most exciting game to watch, in my opinion. I noticed that so many of the European players live in the USA. So what is their status here? That, I think would be interesting to know.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  8. don

    Tiger and Rory are on different roads. Tiger just wants a few more majors and wins to retire, while Rory has a LONG way to go. Talk to me in 10 years. With that said, when Tiger and boomers retire from golf, a third of the game (and courses), will disappear, and most young golfers in America could care less about Rory or any other non-American golfer, and we really don't have any great golfers OR tennis players down the pipeline.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:32 am | Reply
  9. Vee Sphere

    Tiger is intimidated by Rory, it's clear. Tiger should retire, he can't beat this guy or any other top 10 player. Head to head Rory eats him up, no problem at all. Tiger is useless now, just watch how he plays, Misses big putt from 3.5' he sucks.

    October 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply

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