Rory McIlroy's 2014 season was one for the ages, but according to Colin Montgomerie the Ulsterman may now be amid some truly rarified air.
With McIlroy firmly entrenched atop the world rankings and set to chase the career grand slam at the Masters in April, Montgomerie claimed that the 25-year-old is now playing at a higher level than anything ever reached by Tiger Woods.
"Tiger Woods is going to come back into the frame," Montgomerie told Kicca.com. "Is he going to be able to get back, not just to the levels he was, but better than that? Because that's where Rory McIlroy's taken the standard of golf: to one level beyond where Tiger was."
Woods was 25 years old when he went to Augusta and completed the "Tiger Slam," winning the 2001 Masters for his fourth consecutive major, and the sixth of his career. McIlroy will be looking for major No. 5 next spring, after closing his season with wins at both the Open Championship and PGA Championship, regaining the No. 1 ranking in the process.
Montgomerie believes that McIlroy deserves to be the betting favorite for the Masters and he even went one step further, claiming that a clean sweep of the 2015 majors - meaning an unprecedented six wins in a row for McIlroy - isn't exactly far-fetched.
"I'm sure it's a 100-1 shot, but still it's worth a punt," he said. "If I was a gambler, which I'm not, I'd put money on that. He's that dominant, and that good."