- PGA Tour
Tiger: Too soon to talk about a rivalry with Rory
Tiger Woods believes it is far too soon to talk about any 'rivalry' between him and Rory McIlroy - noting the two players will have to go head-to-head in major championships before fans can realistically talk about a duel between the pair.
McIlroy took Woods' place as the dominant force in world golf during 2012, winning four times on the PGA Tour - including the US PGA Championship - to claim player of the year honours and assert himself as the undisputed world No. 1.
But Woods did not exactly have a bad year - winning three times in all - and believes it is too soon to talk about any 'rivalry' between the pair, noting they will have to stare each other down over the closing stretch of a couple of major championships - just as the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, or Ben Hogan and Sam Snead before them once did - for such talk to become viable.
The two were briefly in contention against one another at the Honda Classic in March, eventually won by McIlroy, but have otherwise drawn more attention for their burgeoning friendship than any perceived rivalry.
"Rory McIlroy had a wonderful year, and my hat is off to him," Woods said, writing on his blog. "He deserved Player of the Year.
"Whether we develop a rivalry remains to be seen. Let's just let it play out and see where it takes us. We'll look at the results the next five or 10 years and see if it becomes a rivalry or not.
"We'll have to win big events and play each other down the stretch. That hasn't happened yet. We've only played each other at Honda down the stretch.
"We need a lot more of those type of battles, but in bigger events."
Woods is hoping to return to winning ways in the majors over the next few years, after finally putting to bed the injury woes that plagued his last few seasons. The 14-time major champion believes the consistency he showed in 2012 indicates he is nearly back to his best.
"There's really no comparison between this year and last year," Woods added. "This year, I got a chance to play a full season, compete and win golf tournaments, whereas last year, I was hurt most of the time.
"Being able to compete as much as I did this year was very exciting. I could actually go out and practise and prepare and play and not have a limited ball count or rehab training, and could actually train to become physically better.
"I have always prided myself on consistency, and recording nine top-10 finishes in 19 starts shows my game is back on track."