Hate to say I told you so, but I did — Tiger Woods confirmed on Monday that he did not take offense to Rory McIlroy’s remarks during the Tour Championship about himself and Phil Mickelson “getting into the last holes of their careers.” In fact, Woods had a good chuckle.
“I thought it was funny,” Woods said at a press conference promoting his World Challenge tournament, where he plans to return to action in December at Isleworth Country Club. “I mean, Phil has (fewer) holes to play than I do, though. What is he, five years older than me or four? Yeah, so yeah, it’s a reality, you know? We’re all older.”
Tiger acknowledged the truth in McIlroy’s candid, yet respectful, comments — it’s all part of the cycle of life.
“I’m nearing my 20th season on tour here coming up pretty soon,” he said. “I’ve been out here for a while, and Phil has been out here for a while. It’s just part of the aging process. When I first came out here on tour, I remember seeing some of these fellow players and their kids, and now I’m actually playing against their kids. It’s just how time goes on and time goes by.”
Now, are we witnessing the changing of the guard, so to speak? Tiger seemed to imply and recognize that we are indeed seeing the new generation start to take over as the faces of the game.
“It’s a different generation,” Woods said via ESPN.com. “The guys that I played against most of my career were Phil, Vijay [Singh], Ernie [Els], Goose [Retief Goosen], Paddy [Padraig Harrington]. Those are probably the core guys that I played with or played against for the last 15, almost 20 years now.
“This is the next crop coming up, Rory being one, probably Jordan Spieth, Rickie [Fowler]. That’s the next wave of guys that are coming up. It’s fun to be a part of. I’ve fallen pretty far in the world rankings now (he is 15th after starting the year at No. 1), but at one point we were both [No.] 1 and 2 in the world, and very similar to what it was in the late ’90s and early 2000s when Duval and I were both 1 and 2, and we both represented Nike.
“I just hope it’ll be me soon that’s out there playing that well, but Rory right now is playing fantastically, and I’m sure he’s going to continue to get better.”
Times are a-changin’.