• PGA Tour

Tiger: I'm a popular guy on tour

ESPN staff
September 21, 2012 « Wozniacki marches on in Korea | Chartbeat test »
Tiger Woods insists he's popular with other players © Getty Images
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Tiger Woods has insisted that, contrary to popular opinion, he has a great relationship with a number of the other golfers on tour.

Woods has been forced to deal with a litany of questions about Rory McIlroy this week, after former major champion Greg Norman suggested that the Northern Irishman was the first player in the sport who "intimidated" Woods.

Woods, a 14-time major champion, has been characterised as an isolated, aloof player ever since his breakthrough victory at The Masters in 1997 - using that distance to his advantage to beat opponents psychologically.

But Woods reiterated on Thursday, after starting well at the Tour Championship, that he enjoyed a great relationship with McIlroy - and actually does with most of the other professionals on tour.

"I enjoy playing with Rory. He's a great kid," Woods said. "Over the years there are certain pairings for me that I've enjoyed, and Rory is one of them.

"A lot of guys are like that. He's not the only one. Contrary to what you ... you probably don't believe this, but I get along really well with a lot of guys out here. Rory is no different.

"I give it [banter], they dish it, and we have a great time. This is a fraternity out here. That's one of the great things about being out here for 17 years. You get to know the guys quite well."

Woods also revealed that about the only player who has ever distracted him on the course is Phil Mickelson, noting that the two Americans have previously got caught up in their own individual battle and seen tournaments get away from them.

"I've done it a couple of times playing against Phil in the final group, and we've gotten run over," Woods said. "We were playing against each other and some guy gets off to a start, and we're seven under through 10, and next thing you know we're two or three [shots] back.

"It's happened a couple times where we just didn't have the leaderboards, so we don't really know what's going on. We're playing against each other.

"Next thing you know, you get through nine, and you look at the leaderboard, and it's like, 'Hello! Now we've got to get going'. Yeah, it's happened a couple of times [with Phil]."

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