They will come up against each other in the year’s first major on Thursday, but it wasn’t that long ago that Rory McIlroy was looking up to Tiger Woods.
The world No 1 – now 103 places above Woods in the world rankings – is the favourite to win the Masters next week and claim his first green jacket, thus completing a career Grand Slam.
Woods, who has confirmed he is ready to play at Augusta after spell working on his game, is one of only five players to win the Masters, The Open, the US PGA Championship and the US Open – and it’s that success which led to a young McIlroy aiming to emulate him.
Rory’s rise from child prodigy to the world’s best – along with his fascination with Woods’ stellar career – has now been beautifully told in a new two-minute video created by their sponsors Nike.
Entitled ‘Ripple’, the clip features a number of young actors portraying McIlroy as a kid and into his teenage years – from hitting plastic balls around his parents’ living room, to practising relentlessly in his hometown of Holywood, Northern Ireland.
A common theme runs through the video as McIlroy and his father keep a close eye on Tiger’s progress on both the PGA Tour and at the major championships.
Speaking about ‘Ripple’, McIlroy said: ‘As a kid, I looked up to Tiger. When I first saw him on TV, I remember being completely enamored by the energy he brought to the sport. His will to win. His determination. His fight.’
‘I’ve been in that same situation,’ said Woods.
‘Growing up, Jack (Nicklaus) was my idol. My first recollection of the Masters was 1986, when Jack won.
‘I remember him making a putt at 17 and lifting that putter up. Fourteen years later at the 2000 PGA Championship, I got to play with and against him – someone I looked up to.’
It remains to be seen whether Woods will be at the business end of the Masters come Sunday but McIlroy relishes playing with his idol.

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