NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. — When Tiger Woods was 21, he won the ’97 Masters by a ridiculous margin of 12 shots. With Tiger injured and Rory McIlroy winning the US Open in Tiger-esque style, several have claimed the Tiger Era is over and it’s now the Rory Era. At Tiger’s press conference on Tuesday at AT&T National, he praised Rory for his incredible win at Congressional.“That was pretty good, wasn’t it?” said Tiger, smiling. “That was some seriously good playing.
“As I was saying out there earlier, it was cool to see that he had softer conditions and he was able to go low but also was able to continue pushing it, and that’s what’s fun when you have a lead is to keep building on it and keep pushing. Those conditions weren’t such where pars were going to build leads and an occasional birdie. You had to go out there and be aggressive and go get the birdies because everyone else was; everyone else was making three, four, five, six birdies a day, and he just didn’t make any bogeys.
“That was very impressive playing. To do that at a U.S. Open, to be that aggressive the entire time, that was cool to watch.”
That’s quite a thoughtful and honest answer from Tiger.
Tiger’s good friend Mark O’Meara said Rory is a better player at his age than Tiger was. Tiger agreed without any hesitation.
“I totally agree with what Mark said,” Tiger said. “In comparison to — well, in ’97 when I was, what, 21, granted, I had some success, but I didn’t like my golf swing. That’s why I changed it. I felt like at the same age, yeah, his swing is definitely better than mine was at the same age.
“But in ’99 my swing came together and I had a pretty good next two years. That’s kind of where at the same age comparatively, yeah, his swing is better. He needs to obviously continue working on it and continue getting better. And he’s still young; Rory is 22.”
Rory does have a beautiful swing. It’s just so natural. I always say if I could have any swing in golf, it’d be Rory’s.
Tiger also complimented Rory on his ability to bounce back after the Masters meltdown.
“It’s fun to see obviously someone who’s of that age play the way he did and handle himself the way he did after Augusta and apply it,” said Tiger.
“Hey, we’ve all fallen, we’ve all made mistakes and played poorly and lost golf tournaments, and I did it in ’96 at Quad Cities. I had the lead and just absolutely blew up on Sunday, learned my lesson and came back and won golf tournaments after that, that same year.
“It’s fun to see someone do that. It’s fun to see someone apply what they’ve learned and succeed while doing it.”
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)