Wednesday 21 August 2019

Rory McIlroy turns on raucous fans and says 'circus' around Tiger Woods puts American at 'two-shot disadvantage'

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy

James Corrigan

Rory McIlroy has rounded on the raucous golf fans and claimed Tiger Woods is operating at a “two-shot disadvantage” to the rest of the field because of the “circus” which surrounds his competitive appearances.

McIlroy played with Woods as the 42-year-old missed the cut here at the Genesis Open and expressed his sympathy. The Ulsterman hopes that the distracting clamour is a“novelty” because this was only Woods’ second performance in more than a year after back surgery.

“It might always have been like this like the whole Tiger mania and these dudes, but I swear, playing in front of all that, he gives up half a shot a day on the field,” McIlroy said, after his 69 put him on two-under, five behind the halfway lead shared by his friend and countryman, Graeme McDowell.

“Like it's two shots a tournament he has to give  because of all that that goes on around. So whether that calms down the more he plays and it doesn't become such a novelty that he's back out playing again I don’t know. But it's tiring. I need a couple Advil. I've got a headache after all that.”

When asked to elaborate, McIlroy said: “You've got a six-foot putt and they’ll shout "It doesn't break as much as you think," just stuff like that - stuff they don't have to say. Whoever is teeing off at 8:30 in the morning doesn't get that and can just go about his business and do his thing. That's tough. Tiger has to deal with that every single time he goes out to play.”

Woods concurred with McIlroy, claiming that he would have even more than his 106 professional wins otherwise.  “It's cost me a lot of shots over the years,” he said. “And it's been a lot because all it takes is one shot on a Thursday and you lose the tournament by a shot on Sunday. What people don't realise, it's not just something that happens on Sunday afternoon - this is cumulative and it's par for the course. But  I've dealt with it for a very long time.”

Woods was not despondent with his 72-76 performance for a six-over total and insisted he has lowered his expectations after his spinal fusion operation last year. At the 11th hour, he has entered the Honda Classic, which starts near to his home in West Palm beach on Thursday.

“I haven't played golf in years,  but I'm starting to come back and it's going to take a little time,” he said. “I’m progressing and starting to get a feel for tournament golf again. I just need to clean up my rounds.”

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport