Fourteen-time major winner Tiger Woods said on Monday he was looking forward to a “decade” of battles with US PGA champion Rory McIlroy as the world’s top two prepare to go head-to-head in China next week.
The 23-year-old McIlroy, who has won two majors in as many years, is viewed by many as the heir apparent to 36-year-old Woods, whose last triumph in one of golf’s major championships came at the US Open in 2008.
Woods’ victory at Torrey Pines came shortly before his career imploded amid a scandal surrounding his private life which saw the American drop out of the top 50.
However, three PGA Tour wins this year have propelled him to No. 2 in the rankings.
Now, Woods says he is ready to challenge top-ranked McIlroy and will aim to put one over on him when they meet on Monday, after his US side lost to the Northern Irishman’s Team Europe at the Ryder Cup last month.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun going head-to-head with Rory,” Woods said of their 18-hole medal-matchplay contest at Jinsha Lake Golf Club in Zhengzhou.
“We’re going to go out there and hopefully play well, give it a go and entertain the gallery,” he added, predicting there will be many more classic contests between them over the next few years.
“We’ve all seen how talented Rory is. It’ll be fun to battle him for the next decade or so and hopefully we’ll have many battles to come,” he added in comments released by the organizers.
McIlroy regained the world No. 1 spot from England’s Luke Donald following his US PGA Championship victory in August, adding to the US Open title he won last year.
The “Duel at Jinsha Lake” is expected to draw huge galleries as fans in China get a rare chance to see the world’s top two in action in a country where golf is becoming increasingly popular.
“I enjoy head-to-head events, so it’s great to do this in China,” Woods said. “I’ve played in China many times over the past decade, but it will be a first time at Jinsha Lake and in Zhengzhou, so I’m looking forward to the experience. I’ve heard the fans get pretty excited. China’s a growing market and what they’ve done in golf over the past decade or so is incredible. China is young in golf terms, but rising fast, especially with the sport joining the Olympics [in 2016].”