The Northern Irishman has become the de facto leader of the PGA Tour over the past 12 months or so.
Tiger Woods has praised Rory McIlroy’s ‘exceptional’ handling of the LIV golf situation as the American gears up for a first PGA Tour start since last July.
The 15-time major champion has been paired alongside the Holywood star for the first two rounds of the Genesis Invitational in California this weekend.
Since the emergence of LIV Golf, McIlroy has been a staunch defender of the PGA Tour and has become the de-facto leader of the Tour.
It was at the Genesis Invitational in 2022 that McIlroy claimed that the Saudi-backed golf league was ‘dead in the water.’ That drew the ire of LIV stars, who were unhappy with the four-time major champions comments.
All this, along with the soon-to-be-released ‘full swing’ Netflix documentary, has positioned McIlroy as an ‘anti-LIV’ figure, with notable feuds with Greg Norman and Patrick Reed simmering along in recent weeks and months.
Throughout it all, McIlroy has played the golf of his life and rose to the top of the World rankings in late 2022. While he was knocked off that perch by Scottie Scheffler after the American’s win at the WM Open last weekend.
Speaking to the media ahead of his eagerly awaited return, Woods was effusive in his praise of the 33-year-old.
“The past year since, if you go back to this week at Genesis last year to where it’s at now, we all have to say it’s been very turbulent,” said Woods.
“We never would have expected the game of golf to be in this situation, but it is, that’s the reality, and I was alluding to trying to create the best product.
“Obviously, they’re a competitive organisation trying to create the best product they possibly can, and we’re trying to create the best product, for the future of golf, how it should be played.
“It’s been an ebb and flow, it really has. And it’s been difficult, there’s no lie.
“You’ve seen our ambassador, Rory, go through it. It’s been tough on him, but he’s been exceptional.
“To be able to go through all that, I’ve been with him on all those conference calls and side meetings, and for him to go out there and play and win, it’s been incredible.”
For Woods, this is his first start in a non-major event since the 2020 Zozo Championship. Since then, the legendary golfer has undergone multiple surgeries and suffered catastrophic injuries after a car crash in 2021.
Woods won his 82nd and most recent PGA Tour victory at the 2019 Zozo Championship. Despite all that he has been through in the three-and-a-half years, Woods still feels he is in with a chance to win an 83rd title and move won clear of Sam Snead.
“Well, the plan was to play. Whether or not this body would listen to me or not was the main question,” he added.
“I can hit golf balls and do all that stuff, it’s a matter of whether I have endurance in my leg, and we’ve been pushing it pretty good and able to recover each and every day, which is great.
“If I’m playing, I play to win. I know that players have played and they are ambassadors of the game and try to grow the game.
“I can’t wrap my mind around that as a competitor. If I’m playing in the event I’m going to try and beat you.
“I’m there to get a W, OK? So I don’t understand how making the cut is a great thing.
Source: Irish Mirror