Former world golf number one Tiger Woods may be the boyhood hero of newest US Open champion Rory Mcllroy’s youth but he admits he can no longer afford to be in awe of him if he wants to become a major force in the world of golf.
The 14-time major winner was idolized by Mcllroy while he was growing up but he believes he has to stand up to Woods and treat him the way he would treat other high quality rivals.
“I don’t want to feel inferior to any other golfer in the world,” McIlroy told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “If you do that then you are giving him an advantage right from the start.
“Obviously I respect everything that Tiger has done and as a kid I was in awe of what he was doing. But I am supposed to be a competitor of his now. I can’t be in awe of what he does or anything like that.
“All I have to do is focus on my game. He can do whatever he wants, but at the end of the day, if I concentrate on me and I play my best golf, I know that sometimes I will come out on top.”
Mcllroy’s life had been hectic scrambling from one place to another ever since his eight-shot win at Congressional two weeks ago.
But while he is aware that the pressure will continue to grow as he keeps on winning, Mcllroy hopes he would be able to handle it better than Woods who made it to the headlines when his double life was exposed.
Said the Northern Ireland World No 4: “It’s a tough one because as a golfer you grow up and all you try to do is imagine winning tournaments and becoming the best golfer you can be.
“But you don’t realise that everything that comes along with all that; the fame, the attention – is something that I will just have to deal with. I know, .
“I feel Tiger managed it very well for a long time before it all just obviously all sort of got to him. It is a very tough position to be in.”
He said he will be able to keep his feet on the ground with the help of his childhood sweetheart Holly Sweeney and his family.
He says: “That’s why a lot of the golfers travel with their families and with their wives. You need a good team around you to keep you grounded and keep you in check with reality and keep a sense of perspective.
“I feel as if I’m lucky that I have got great parents. I have got a great family and great friends.”
His girlfriend, he said, kept him “very grounded”.
“She doesn’t take any grief from me. She’s great. We are going to get attention, good and bad. But again, it is just something we are going to have to learn to deal with.
“It’s amazing how life can change so quickly and you have just got to adapt to it at the time.”
Mcllroy took three weeks off after the US Open even if it means he would lose his World No. 3 ranking to help him deal with his first major win. He was able to watch the heavyweight title loss of David Hayes to Vladimir Klitschko in Hamburg in between two trips to Wimbledon to watch tennis.
The world number 4 said he may not have played a competitive round since he won in Congressional but he is ready to go to Sandwich next week.
Before watching the loss of his good friend Rafael Nadal to Novak Djokovic on Sunday, Mcllroy said “I’ve been here, there and everywhere. It’s nice to get away from golf for a little bit and take in a few other sporting occasions.
“I’m doing all the same things I usually do going into a major. I’m not cutting any corners. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling confident. My game’s in really good shape so hopefully I’ll have another run at it at St George’s.”