Belek, Turkey: Tiger Woods isn’t quite ready to move aside for Rory McIlroy just yet.
It may be four years and counting since winning his 14th and most recent major, but Woods said on Tuesday that he’s already taken on two generations in his 16-year pro career and is just happy to still be part of the “conversation” when up against younger rivals.
“When I first came out here on the tour, most of the guys I played against are now competing on the Champions Tour,” Woods said. “Now the guys I’ve been going head-to-head with for a decade plus are players like Goose [Retief Goosen], Vijay [Singh], Ernie [Els], Paddy [Padraig Harrington] and Phil [Mickelson] who are now all in their 40s.
“What I am going through now is a different generation for me. Rory is 23 and he’s going to be around for a very, very long time — he’s just getting started in his career. I’ve been out here for 16 to 17 years and I am still part of that conversation, which is good.”
Woods’ clubs didn’t do much talking Tuesday at the eight-player World Golf Finals in Turkey, losing to 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel by one shot in the $5.2 million event at the Sultan course in Antalya.
McIlroy fared even worse in the medal match-play format, going down by six strokes to Matt Kuchar.
McIlroy and Woods — ranked No 1 and No 2 — play each other Wednesday in the last of their three group matches, although both could be eliminated by then. Not what the organisers would be hoping for considering they promoted the tournament as “Tiger v. Rory.”
“I have talked about this subject with Jack [Nicklaus] several times,” Woods said. “It’s really neat because he found it fun to be a part of that conversation when he was competing in the [Ben] Hogan days and all the way through [Tom] Watson and into an era when there were guys like Seve [Ballesteros] and all those guys in Europe.
“Jack played the tour for 25-plus years and had to deal with the question as to who is the best player. If I could do something like that it would be neat, and so far I feel as though I have.”