One year ago, fresh off his second career eight-stroke victory at a major championship, Rory McIlroy was ranked No. 1 in the world and believed by many to have the ability to keep Tiger Woods at arm’s length from passing him.
What a difference a year makes.
While McIlroy’s struggles have been embellished a bit – he does own five top-10s in 19 worldwide appearances this year – his lack of a victory has shined the spotlight on a year filled with both on- and off-course drama.
Though he’s dropped to sixth in the world ranking, McIlroy still has a believer in the man who is once again No. 1.
“Give him a little bit more time,” Woods said Tuesday on a conference call. “I think he's starting to put the pieces together, starting to play a little bit more. He showed some really good signs towards the end of the season that the things he's working on are starting to come together.
“I think he's had a lot of change not only in his game, but off-the-course management, sponsorships. He's had a lot of things going on this year. He hasn't played as well as he has in prior years, but he's still ranked pretty high. … A lot of guys don't even get that high.”
McIlroy is competing in the Kolon Korean Open this week. He will be in the field at Woods’ own Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in December.