Rory McIlroy believes Tiger Woods will walk away from the sport as the ultimate golfer, even if he has to put his career to an end due to injuries.
McIlroy is positive that Woods raised golf to a new level and is the best he has ever seen.
Woods, 41, is currently assistant captain of the US team at the Presidents Cup, but his fourth back operation seems to have been a bit too much for him, which could send him into retirement.
This would mean that Woods will finish four short of Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18 major victories.
It does not matter that much for McIlroy, though, as he claimed: “If he doesn’t play again, he’s been the greatest player I’ve ever seen.
“He probably played the greatest golf that anyone in my lifetime has seen.
“I mean, I didn’t really see Jack play — Jack has a better record — but I don’t know if he played better golf.
“But look, if this is it, Tiger doesn’t have anything to prove. He can walk away from this game with his head held extremely high. He’s done wonders for this game.
“I don’t think there’s a single figure in golf who did more for the game in terms of bringing different groups of people into the game — different ethnicities, age groups.
“He made golf cool in the Nineties, when it really needed an injection of something. So he’s a legend and, if this is it, everyone should just applaud what a career he’s had.”
McIlroy, four-time major champion, is known for having a positive relation with Woods.
“Only he knows whether he can do it and he’s taking it very slowly. I spent a bit of time with him the past few months and, you know, he’s waiting on doctors to tell him when he can do things.
“He’ll take their advice and not be quite as stubborn as he was maybe back in the day.”
McIlroy himself dealed with some injury problems for most of this year, but he is about to end it on a high as he shot a three-under-par 67 in the British Masters.
That still left him four shots behind joint leaders George Coetzee and Tyrrell Hatton in the contest.