• Rory, Jordan and Jon: First Tiger encounter

    Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy
    Rory and Tiger

    Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm share their memories of playing with Tiger Woods for the first time.


    ‘I played with him at his tournament at Sherwood back in 2010. I’ve never said “Good shot” as much in my life playing with anyone as I did that day. It was just “Good shot, good shot, good shot.” He was consistently hitting great shots the entire day and shot six under. I felt pretty nervous the first few holes, but then I settled in and sort of did my thing, was playing OK. Afterwards, inevitably you compare yourself to him and what you’ve just seen. I was thinking definitely he’s better than me there and I can definitely hang with him there and I need to do better with this.’


    ‘We had a little 12-hole match, Tiger and Kuch [Matt Kuchar] versus Steve Stricker and I the practice day before the 2013 Presidents Cup. We started on No 7, and on our [par-three] sixth hole, Tiger hit an 8‑iron and it looked like he went after it, so I went ahead and hit kind of a smooth 7. It was 173 into a little breeze, played 175, 176, and started at the flag and never really left it … and all of a sudden, it dropped. Everybody’s hands went up, so our arms went up, and it was really cool; a cool environment that we had that many people around. We were all just giving each other high‑fives and the next hole we were talking about how many [aces] each other had and I realised it was a lot humbling because they all have a lot more than I do.’


    ‘My first time was the [2018] Ryder Cup singles. He just won at East Lake; he’s 0-3, I was 0-2. I’m like, he really wants to win this for sure, and I’m not playing my best. I went to bed that night, woke up, and all the way from the hotel to the golf course I was talking to a mental coach of what I wanted to do … I kind of went with the mindset of I’m going to have to beat this guy at his own game. I’m not a person known for not making mistakes, but I’m going to have to play as flawless as I can and it’s what I set my mind to. Then on the last putt right before I hit it, somebody in Spanish yelled, “Do it for Seve!” at the top of his lungs. Knowing how much Seve means to me, having the 5-footer to beat Tiger Woods, earning the first full point for the Europeans when it was looking kind of dark – there was a lot going on in my mind.

    ‘When I turned around, I had to apologise because I didn’t see he was coming to me and he came to me with a smile. He said, “Man, don’t even worry, you played great.” I started crying in front of Tiger … it was such an emotional moment. I saw him win a great deal of events, grew up with a dream of someday beating him, and to do it on the Sunday of a Ryder Cup – it was extremely special. There’s not many things that are going to be better than that in golf for me.’

    For the rest of the Tiger first encounters, click HERE!

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