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McIlroy on a slumping Tiger and the next generation

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MARANA, Ariz. – Rory McIlroy was asked after he won his match Wednesday if there’s a changing of the guard in golf with a younger generation poised to take command.

McIlroy paused carefully when choosing his words about Tiger Woods, but he couldn’t seem to help himself.

McIlroy, 21, came into the Accenture Match Play Championship media room just after 17-year-old Matteo Manassero, who defeated 44-year-old Steve Stricker.

Here’s what McIlroy said about the youth movement:

“Well, I definitely think there's an opportunity for the younger guys to come and show what they've got on Tour. I think this was my first event as a professional in America a couple of years ago, now Matteo’s as well. You feel like you've nothing to lose. You just go out there and you're playing your game.

“Regardless if Tiger or Phil [Mickelson] or Steve Stricker or Jim Furyk are coming towards the end of their careers, I think the young guys are good enough to compete with them. I don't think Tiger and Phil have gotten any – well, yeah, I mean I don't think Phil has gotten any worse. Tiger isn't as dominant as he used to be, and Phil, I mean Phil won the Masters last year. They're great players, and they're going to continue to be great players until their mid 40s. I think it's just a good opportunity for the younger generation to come through and show what they have.”

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