Rory McIlroy insists Tiger Woods does not need ‘to prove anything to anyone’ should the 14-time Major winner not return to competitive golf.
Woods indicated on Wednesday ahead of the Presidents Cup that he faced the reality, due to multiple back surgeries, of ‘not knowing what the future holds’.
McIlroy, who had grown-up idolising Woods and has now become a good friend, was asked his reaction to Woods remarks following a first round of a three-under par 67 on day one of the British Masters at Close House in Newcastle.
“Tiger is the only one who knows whether or not he can return, so that’s why he’s taking it very slowly,” said McIlroy to reporters.
“I spent a bit of time with him over the past few months and he’s waiting on his doctors to tell him when he can do things again. He’s going to take their advice and not be maybe quite as stubborn as he was maybe back in the day.”
“But look, if he doesn’t play again, he’s been the greatest player that I’ve ever seen. He probably played the greatest golf that anyone in my lifetime has seen. I didn’t really see Jack (Nicklaus) play. Jack has a better record but I don’t know if he played better golf.”
“If this is it, he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone. He can walk away from this game with his head held extremely high and he’s done wonders for this game.”
“I don’t think there’s a single figure in golf who did more for the game in terms of bringing different groups of people into the game, different ethnicities, different age groups, made golf cool in the 90s, when it really needed an injection of something.”
“So he’s a legend of the game and if this is it, then everyone should just applaud what a great career Tiger’s had.”.
McIlroy will head to Augusta next April looking to achieve what Woods and just four others have achieved and that is to win the coveted Grand Slam.
For McIlroy, it will be his fourth Glam Slam attempt having won the 2015 Open Championship after capturing the 2011 U.S. Open and both the 2012 and 2014 PGA Championship.