McIlroy in no doubt over Tiger revival
WITH one fell swoosh Rory McIlroy has dismissed any talk of Tiger's demise – insisting he still cherishes the prospect of going head-to-head with Woods down the stretch at a Major, writes Karl MacGinty.
Tiger made an inauspicious start to 2014, missing Saturday's secondary cut at the Farmers Insurance Open with an abject 79.
This shocking effort was at odds with his status as defending champion at Torrey Pines and eight career wins on the South Course, including the 2008 US Open. Yet, McIlroy sees it as no more than a flash in the pan.
Looking forward to this week's confrontation with the world No 1 at the Dubai Desert Classic and future showdowns at the Majors, McIlroy, after opening a new Nike store in Dubai, said: "I grew up dreaming of taking on Tiger down the stretch at a Major.
"It hasn't quite happened yet. We've sort of been in contention a few times without having a battle.
"You always want to put yourself up against the best and Tiger's been the best in the game for the last 15 to 20 years," added McIlroy, immediately correcting himself with a smile. "I mean 15 years. I am making him sound old.
"It's great to have Tiger here in Dubai. His season got off to a bit of a slow start last week so I'm sure he'll be wanting to make up for it."
McIlroy, who landed his first Tour title here in 2009, tees it up with two-time Dubai winner Woods and 1989 champ Eamonn Darcy in today's $600,000 Former Champions Challenge, an 18-hole exhibition to mark the 25th anniversary of the Desert Classic.
Though frustrated when a two-stroke penalty for a third round rules infringement denied him a win in Abu Dhabi, McIlroy is upbeat about his start to the season.
After a week's practice in Dubai, he makes a change in his bag this week, carrying four wedges for the first time. McIlroy replaces his three-wood with a 52 degree wedge, adding it to the 47, 54 and 59 already in his arsenal.