Saturday 24 March 2018

Rory wrong to call Tiger 'ordinary' - Westwood

Brian Keogh at Palm Beach

Rory McIlroy has earned a playful rebuke from Lee Westwood for speaking his mind and suggesting that Tiger Woods may never be the same again.

The Holywood tyro (21) penned a first-person piece for a 'Sports Illustrated' this week, claiming that Woods is "playing like an ordinary golfer."

World No 8 McIlroy wrote: "I wasn't playing against Tiger when he had that aura. I was watching on TV! I remember getting nervous when I first met him. I was 15. There was a presence about him.

"There still is to some extent, but when you're on the golf course you simply block it out. But Tiger is not playing as well as he was even a couple of years ago, never mind going back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he was at his best.


"I'm not sure we are going to see him dominate again the way he did. He never seemed like he would make a mistake.

"It's not that he's playing badly. He's simply playing badly by Tiger's standards. He's playing like an ordinary golfer."

Given Woods' slide to fifth in the world rankings behind Martin Kaymer, Westwood, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, McIlroy is only saying aloud what many in the game believe.

But Westwood (37) is not so eager to write off the 14-time Major winner as a dominant force just yet.

Asked what he thought of McIlroy's comments, Westwood said: "That's the answer that a 21-year-old would give. A 37-year-old is a little wiser.

"Class is permanent, form is fickle. Tiger is the classiest player I have ever played with and I'd be wise enough to know not to write him off.

"I have seen him play poorly and win tournaments, so he doesn't necessarily have to get back to where he was."

Westwood and McIlroy are in Florida for this week's Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens.

With Donald and McDowell also teeing it up, the field features seven of the world's top 13 players.

Woods has joined Kaymer in taking the week off ahead of next week's WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport