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Rory McIlroy to Tiger Woods: I want you (at the Ryder Cup)!
Is there a golf fan alive who would not want to watch Tiger Woods take on Rory McIlroy in the Ryder Cup singles matches?
Given their recent history of togetherness, the obvious comfort and amiability between the two, as well as their friendly rivalry, it’s hardly surprising that No. 1 himself is keen to face No. 2 in the Medinah finale a week from Sunday. Indeed, McIlroy told Matt Dickinson in The Times of the U.K. that he may exert some influence with European captain Jose Maria Olazabal to make such a duel happen.
"It would be great fun to be part of," McIlroy said in an interview published on Monday. "The atmosphere would be absolutely incredible. I might say to Tiger, 'I'll have a word with Jose, you have a word with Davis, and I'll see you on the first tee.’”
In only his second stint in the biennial competition between the Euros and the U.S., the two-time major champ said he planned to speak up in the team room as well as on the course.
"I think there will be an expectation on me to be one of the leaders," said McIlroy. "It's strange to say because there are so many guys in the team who have done so much in their careers, but being No. 1 in the world and with what I've done these last couple of years, I am expecting to go in with more of a leadership role.
"My voice being heard in the team room, making suggestions, being confident to say, 'Listen guys, here's what I think we should do.’ I was a rookie last time and I sat quietly waiting for everybody else to say something. I hope to lead by example, maybe go out in the first game of the day, set the tone."
About their unfolding affinity for each other, McIlroy termed his relationship with Woods “fun,” and told Dickinson the two engage in playful banter.
"Tiger gives me stick about being short. He always asks me, 'Seriously, how tall are you?'" McIlroy said. "I'll say, '5'9.’
"'Yeah, but without the hair? That's 5'7, right?''’ McIlroy said Woods teases. “He'll ask me, 'What do you do when Caroline [Wozniacki, McIlroy's girlfriend] wears heels?'
“But I give him grief about all sorts. Getting old, getting bald,” the 23-year-old said about his 36-year-old boyhood idol. “He doesn't take himself too seriously, certainly not when I'm around."
The notoriously private Woods, who has seemed far more laid back and affable since he started hanging out with McIlroy, has allowed the kid into his off-course world, offering tidbits about various activities he’s involved with outside the ropes.
"Every time I ask him, 'What are you doing next week?'” McIlroy said. “He's like, 'I've got the kids and I can't wait to do this, to do that.'”
We’re not sure how the divorced dad of two would take McIlroy’s next bit of chatter, but the Northern Irishman noted that Woods was “a very committed golfer, which is probably all because of what happened and wanting to make up for what he did.”
But if anyone were wondering why McIlroy and Woods rank first and second in men’s golf, the young Ulsterman provided a not-so-surprising picture of the two ball-strikers.
"There was a great moment before the pro-am at Crooked Stick," McIlroy said. "It was early morning, so early it was still dark, and Tiger and me were the only two on the range hitting balls.
"It was pretty cool. Just the two of us hitting balls on our own, no one else there,” he said. “And I couldn't help thinking, with us being out there so early, 'Maybe this is why we are the best two golfers in the world.’”
And, with luck and obvious planning by Olazabal and U.S. skipper Davis Love III, we’ll all get to witness Woods v. McIlroy on Ryder Cup Sunday.