McIlroy, Westwood relish chance to face Woods
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Tiger Woods is back to his winning ways, and some of the best golfers in the world are relishing the chance to face him again.
Woods won the Chevron World Challenge on Sunday, ending a two-year title drought that began shortly after his personal life imploded.
"It's something I look forward to," said Rory McIlroy, the U.S. Open champion who has moved up to No. 2 in the world and is playing at this week's Dubai Championship. "(Playing against Tiger) would be a huge experience and a huge learning curve for me just to see how I would handle it.
"But it's not something I have experienced and it's not something that a lot of players in my sort of generation have experienced yet."
Before Sunday's victory, Woods had last won on Nov. 15, 2009, at the Australian Masters — a 26-tournament drought.
But that win moved Woods from No. 52 to No. 21 in the rankings. Unlike a year ago when he blew a four-shot lead in the final round at Sherwood Country Club to lose in a playoff to Graeme McDowell, Woods this time made his clutch putts on Sunday and came from two-shots back to beat former Masters champion Zach Johnson.
It was a performance that seemed to show that his recent success in Australia was no fluke. He showed signs of coming back with nine solid rounds in the wind in Australia, finishing third at the Australian Open and delivering the clinching point for the Americans in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
"With Tiger, obviously it's nice for him, I think, that he could win again," fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer said. "It's good for us. He did a lot for the sport and the status that golf has in the world.
"It would be nice to play against the best player whoever played the game in their top form and see if you can beat them."
Third-ranked Lee Westwood also welcomed Woods back, calling him "the biggest name in golf and probably one of the biggest names in world sports."
Westwood said it can only help when Woods is playing at his best and on the top of the leaderboard in any tournament.
"You know, obviously, Tiger getting back into the winner's enclosure is great for golf," Westwood said. "I think everybody likes to see the best players in the world playing well. Tiger has been one of those, that kind of player, and might well get back there. Starting to play well is the first start of that process."