World No.1 McIlroy not ready to write off TigerRory McIlroy, the hottest golfer on the planet, is not thinking about taking the torch from Tiger Woods as the sport’s next dominant player, but the easy-going Northern Irishman says he has already sparred with Woods over a potential rivalry.
McIlroy, winner of the British Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship in his past three starts, spent a day earlier this week with fellow Nike spokesman Woods in the New York area.
The two were promoting some new irons and also appeared on a late-night talk show ahead of The Barclays, which opens the FedEx Cup playoffs starting Thursday.
“It was good to catch up with him. I haven’t really seen him much for a few months,” world No. 1 McIlroy said on Wednesday about Woods, who has shut down his golf game due to continued trouble with his back after surgery this year. “It was good fun. It was a good day.”
McIlroy grew up idolizing Woods, as did so many of the young golfers now on tour who watched the American amass 14 majors, and he feels it may be premature to write Woods off, despite his major title drought dating to the 2008 U.S. Open.
“I know that he’s working his butt off to get back here and get back to where he wants to be,” said the 25-year-old McIlroy, who is a Masters title away from achieving a career grand slam.
“We talked about a few things and he’s telling me like, ‘I’m not going to let you win a green jacket next year’ ... because he’s super competitive,” added McIlroy, who fell in behind Jack Nicklaus and Woods after his PGA triumph at Valhalla as the youngest player to have captured four major titles.
McIlroy said he shares the ultra-competitiveness of Woods, though he restricts it to golf and prefers to maintain a composed demeanor.
“I might not look it, but I’m the exact same way. I’ve got a very competitive spirit, but only on a golf course. Like I’ll let you win in a game of pool. I don’t care about that,” he said. “Tiger has just got a more competitive spirit, period. Like he’ll want to beat you at cards. He’ll want to beat you at anything you’re playing.”
McIlroy said he was ready to give his all in a push for the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus prize to the points leader after the Sep. 11-14 Tour Championship, the fourth and final event of the series.
“It would just be really gratifying to know that I finished the season off well and the way that it should be finished off,” he said.
Ridgewood Country Club, an A.W. Tillinghast design, should present a worthy test in launching the playoffs, winning praise from many in the 122-player field as a classic, tree-lined, heavily-bunkered parkland course with U.S. Open-style rough.
“It’s a great golf course,” said PGA Tour veteran Jim Furyk, who went on to win the 2010 FedEx Cup series despite being disqualified from The Barclays at Ridgewood for failing to make his pro-am tee time the day before the first round.
The top 100 players on the points list advance to next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, with the leading 70 players qualifying for the BMW Championship which sends 30 players to the Tour Championship finale.