Rory McIlroy has shared his thoughts on the magnitude of Tiger Woods’ latest Major victory, and wonders if the size of the feat has been adequately recognised in the golf world.
Woods’ struggles are well documented, with his most famous comments coming in the wake of the Champions Dinner ahead of the 2017 Masters. The then 14-time Major champion believed that his time in professional golf was up, such was the devastating effects of his long-standing battles with injury.
Barely able to leave his bed, Woods would roll the dice one more time as he underwent the knife once more; a spinal fusion in April 2017.
Hindsight will tell a story of a successful 2018, capped by competing in the Majors and then winning the Tour Championship – his 80th title. The legend was back, and he set his sights on a fifth Green Jacket.
Francesco Molinari, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka were among those to fail under the pressure of Woods stalking the leaderboard before eventually winning, thanks to a flawless final nine holes.
‘It’s a big deal to come back from what he had,’ said McIlroy, the owner of four Majors.
‘I don’t think people quite appreciate what has gone into it. It just shows he’s gritty, he’s determined. It’s always been one of his best qualities, and it was awesome to see.
‘For everyone in golf, whether you’re a player, whether you’re in the media, or whatever, it’s just great for our game in general. I think it was a great day.’
McIlroy recalls how different the narrative looks today compared to his lunch with Woods in 2017.
The Northern Irishman weighed in on Woods’ questions about quality of life, watching his kids play sport or playing in the backyard. Now, the talk has shifted back to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Major championships.
‘It rejuvenates, re-energises that narrative,’ he said.
‘A lot of people were comparing it to Jack in ’86 and everyone knew that was going to be Jack’s last major championship. [But] Tiger could be competitive at Augusta for the next ten years if his body holds up.’
A fit Woods is just one obstacle in the way of McIlroy’s bid to complete the career slam, with a Green Jacket his missing puzzle piece.