Wednesday 16 January 2019

McIlroy spurred on by absence of Tiger

Rory McIlroy knows there are two ways of looking at the absence of Tiger Woods from the US Open starting tomorrow.

Bad for the event. Good for him.

"It's obviously not great for the golf tournament -- it would have been great to see him play," said the 22-year-old Irishman.

"But I suppose it leaves the door a little bit open for a few of the guys.

"Every time you have Tiger in the field you've got to think that he's going to have a good chance.

"To have one of the main contenders not here gives the rest of us a little bit more of a chance."

Woods, out with knee and Achilles injuries, has failed to make it back to the Congressional course near Washington where he first became world number one 14 years ago -- with a 19th-place finish.

"You have to take care of your health before anything else," added McIlroy, so keen to make instant amends in the majors for his closing 80 from four in front at The Masters in April.

"It was apparent that his body still isn't in a good enough place to play competitive golf.

"Hopefully he gets back on the course soon, but he still looked like he was in quite a lot of pain in the nine holes he played at The Players."


Woods played that front nine in 42, which was still one better than McIlroy's back nine at Augusta -- and so, even though he has had to talk about it at every tournament since, he was asked about it again yesterday.

"No doubt it was a great experience for me," he said.

"I took the positives from the week -- there weren't many to take from the Sunday.

"It's hard. It was my first time in that situation, you're going to be feeling the pressure a little bit and I certainly did.

"You're in with a great chance to win your first major and it just doesn't happen. You just move on -- that's all you can do.

"It's not the end of the world."

Certainly not when you have seen what he has just seen -- the devastation that last year's earthquake caused in Haiti.

"I thought I had perspective before going and then actually seeing it just gives you a completely different view on the world.

"It just makes you feel so lucky that I'm able just to sit here and drink a bottle of water -- just the normal things that everyone does that you take for granted."


He hopes to return in his role as a UNICEF ambassador -- and is thinking of a visit to Sri Lanka as well later in the year.

McIlroy hopes it will be as a major champion.

"I need to do it first and I haven't done it yet," he said.

"I just need to go out and play the golf that everyone thinks I'm capable of."

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