PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Lee Westwood read yet another edgy Rory McIlroy assessment of Tiger Woods’ slumping game and smiled playfully Tuesday at the Honda Classic.
“That’s the answer a 21-year-old would give, isn’t it?” Westwood said of McIlroy's first-person story this week in Sports Illustrated Golf Plus. “37-year-olds are a little wiser . . . I will have a word with Rory later.”
Here’s an excerpt of McIlroy’s take on Tiger this week:
I wasn't playing against Tiger Woods when he had that aura. I was watching on TV! I remember getting nervous when I first met him. I was 15. There was a presence about him. There still is to some extent, but when you're on the golf course you simply block it out. But Tiger is not playing as well as he was even a couple of years ago, never mind going back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he was at his best. I'm not sure we are going to see him dominate again the way he did. He never seemed like he would make a mistake.
It's not that he's playing badly. He's simply playing badly by Tiger's standards. He's playing like an ordinary golfer. As much as I would love to have the success that Tiger has had on the golf course, I wouldn't want to live his life. He has made the same mistakes as any footballer, or NBA or NFL player. Tiger is obviously different from the rest of us because he is a bit of a rock star. But he can't really take his kids to the cinema. It's a tough life because of what he has done and what he represents, being the first African-American golfer to break down the barriers.
Westwood, a close friend to McIlroy, says he’s expecting a rebound from Woods.
“There's an old saying, class is permanent, form is fickle,” Westwood said. 'He's the classiest player I've ever played with, and I'd be wise enough not to write him off.'