McIlroy plays down rivalry with Woods

McIlroy plays down rivalry with Woods

BELEK, Antalya
McIlroy plays down rivalry with Woods

Rory McIlroy (R) stands next to Tiger Woods at the Antalya Golf Club course, where the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final is held. The two golfers are the most popular names at the tournament, but McIlroy plays down rivalry with the American. AA photo

World number one Rory McIlroy has played down talk of rivalry between himself and 14-times major winner Tiger Woods as the inaugural eight-man World Golf Final in Turkey started yesterday.

Ryder Cup winner McIlroy and world number two Woods are the biggest names in a field which includes five of the world’s top 10.

With a total prize money of $5.2 million, the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final is one of the most lucrative tournaments in the sport’s yearly calendar.

McIlroy and Woods are grouped together and could both reach the semifinals and potentially meet in the final on Oct. 11.

“This will be the first match where we have played against each other head-to-head compared to individual stroke play so it should be fun, and it’s a match I would really like to win,” McIlroy told reporters on Oct. 8.

“But while I would rather be a part of this than not, I’m in a great position being compared to Tiger. People who watch sports want to see some form of rivalry between myself and Tiger but I don’t see it as that’s what Tiger and I have.

“I am just pleased to be mentioned in the same conversation with Tiger,” added McIlroy of his opponent who sits in second place on the list of all-time major winners, four behind Jack Nicklaus.
“I’m looking forward to tackling Tiger as everyone knows he’s been a hero of my growing up,” said the 23-year-old of the 36-year-old American superstar.

‘Exciting week’

McIlroy opened his campaign against Keegan Bradley’s American teammate Matt Kuchar yesterday before playing South African Schwartzel and Woods tomorrow.

“It’s going to be a very exciting week with eight of the best players in the world and the people of Turkey are going to see an event they’ve never seen before,” said McIlroy.

In Group Two, American Hunter Mahan opened up against Ryder Cup winner Justin Rose whose teammate Lee Westwood took on U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.