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Tiger purrs at rival as Rory joins his 'family'

PROBABLY for the first time in his life Tiger Woods faced the media today and had to answer more questions about another player than he did about himself.

The player in question was, of course, his new Nike stablemate Rory McIlroy - the undisputed current world No 1 and the man signed in a deal that it is thought could be worth as much as £250m.

McIlroy, unveiled as the new face of the company last night, and Woods are back in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starting on Thursday. It is the event in which they finished second and third respectively last year, Woods returns as the nearest challenger to McIlroy on the rankings.


The 23-year-old Irishman has a massive lead, however, and will stay number one even if he misses the cut on Friday and Woods wins the title two days later.

Woods has no problem talking about the undoubted talent of McIlroy.

"He drives beautifully, he's a beautiful iron player and when he gets the putter rolling he makes a lot of putts," he said.

"He has proved he can make big putts, winning a couple of majors by large margins.

"He has all the tools and is only going to get better at it."

Woods describes himself as there to assist McIlroy whenever he might want some advice - "we have certainly hit it off and our relationship has grown" - but says he had nothing to do with him joining him at Nike.

"He's a big boy. He can figure it out on his own," Woods said.

The company also stuck with Woods during his sex scandal and he summed up McIlroy's move as him coming "to the Nike family".