TIGER WOODS has a new nickname for Rory McIlroy -- 'The Intimidator'. But don't expect the American's knocking knees to distract the Northern Irishman when they partner each other in today's first round of the Tour Championship.
Woods came up with the nickname in response to Greg Norman' claim that "Tiger is intimidated by Rory".
When asked about the Australian's comments, Woods joked "it must be the hair", referring to the world No 1's curly mop.
The burgeoning rivalry between Woods and McIlroy -- as well as their friendship -- has been the theme for a play-off series which has eclipsed the five previous stagings.
Woods does not believe the finale format is totally fair and will feel sympathy for McIlroy if he -- or anyone else -- denies Rory the outrageous spoils.
"It's set up for that. If the guy wins the first three play-off events and comes second in the Tour Championship, he could still lose it," said Woods. "I don't think that's quite fair."
Desperate for an exciting finish, the PGA Tour decided on a points reset going into the climatic week, which gives the leader only a slender advantage. Yet, the fact is that McIlroy would be in exactly the same position if he had only edged the points standings over the first three weeks instead of leaving the rest standing.
"The Tour Championship didn't have the impact it probably should have -- hence the change in the system to where it is now," Woods said.
For McIlroy's part, he isn't moaning. "I don't mind," he said. "Look, it obviously makes it exciting going into the last event. It would be nice to have it already wrapped up, but that's just the way it is. I accept it and I accept that I still have a lot of work to do this week."
If he succeeds, McIlroy can congratulate himself for overcoming the FedEx absurdities. Last year, Bill Haas came from 25th in the standings to win, thanks to what he called "the perfect storm".
It is difficult to imagine anyone coming from outside the top 18 in this 30-man field to perform the same ridiculous leapfrog this time around.
McIlroy agrees that he is in the form of his life and is determined to ride his wave, not only to Sunday but during the Ryder Cup as well, with everyone talking up a Woods-McIlroy showdown in the Sunday singles.
"I'm not going to sit here and say I wouldn't enjoy it, because I would," he said.
"It would be very exciting to be a part of, of course. But the Ryder Cup is about the teams -- not just us two." (© Daily Telegraph, London)