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Rory McIlroy reveals the Tiger Woods he’s seen ‘in private moments’

October 30, 2019

Still only days removed from Tiger Woods’ 82nd PGA Tour victory, Woods’ third win in the last 13 months is still fresh on the minds of players, fans and media. Several players have been asked to reflect upon it, including Rory McIlroy, who spoke to reporters on Wednesday ahead of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China.

McIlroy said players realize Woods playing well is great for the game due to the attention it brings, but also because McIlroy and others all looked up to him while growing up, and still do.

“If Tiger’s doing well, the game of golf in general thrives,” he said. “It’s good for everyone involved, and I think we’re happy for him. He’s been through a lot in terms of injuries and some of the breaks that he’s had to take. I think because he has opened up a little bit, you know, people know what he’s been through and are happy that he’s got through the other side of it and is playing great again.”

McIlroy referenced the story from last week about Woods, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland, Bubba Watson and Ryan Palmer getting stuck at a Domino’s when the Zozo Championship was suspended due to heavy rains. Woods hanging out with other pros in that kind of group setting didn’t happen several years ago.

“That’s something that he never would have done,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy added that due to their close proximity in Jupiter, Fla., they have grown even closer than before, and that it’s put him in a “fortunate position” to develop an even closer relationship. He’s seen the behind-the-scenes Woods others haven’t.

“I’ve seen in the private moments who he is as a person and what a great dad he is, and you know, how seriously he takes that side of his life, as well,” McIlroy said. “It’s been great to see. You know, I think previously in his career, he didn’t take the camaraderie or the being one of the guys as seriously as he does now as he transitions to this latter part of his career where he’s captaining teams and he’s being part of Presidents Cups, Ryder Cups, and almost like mentoring some of these guys through the fact that he’s taken Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler and these guys under his wing a little bit and spends time with them in Florida. He’s definitely mellowed as a person, and probably sees the bigger picture a little more than he used to, and that’s a great thing.”

McIlroy’s first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions begins at 10:50 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

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