Woods revels in Rory time
American enjoying the chance to play regularly with McIlroy
Last Updated: September 21, 2012 11:31am
Tiger Woods (R) has enjoyed the opportunity to play with Rory McIlroy (L) on a regular basis recently
Tiger Woods admits he has really enjoyed the opportunity to play alongside Rory McIlroy on a regular basis over the last few weeks.
The duo have been paired together on numerous occasions during the FedEx Cup play-offs recently and McIlroy has thrived on the challenge, producing back-to-back wins in the last two events.
On Thursday they teed off in tandem again in the first round of the Tour Championship - the eighth time they have played together this year - and, on this occasion, it was Woods who claimed an advantage as he bettered McIlroy's 69 with a 66 which saw him share the lead at East Lake after day one.
There has been plenty of talk this week about the pair's relationship in the wake of Greg Norman's claim that McIlroy "really intimidates" his American rival.
Both men laughed off that suggestion and Woods insists that McIlroy has proved to be one of the most enjoyable partners in his long and illustrious career.
"I enjoy playing with Rory. He's a great kid," Woods stated. "Over the years there are certain pairings for me that I've enjoyed and Rory is one of them.
"I think that is the whole idea of the play-offs. Trying to get the top players all playing more often, but also in the same group.
"You figure the top players are going to gravitate towards the top of the points list and hence you're going to have these type of pairings throughout the play-offs.
"I've had Rory three of the four events. I think it's worked out the way that our Tour wanted it to.
"You probably don't believe this, but I get along really well with a lot of guys out here. Rory is no different.
"I give it, they dish it and we have a great time. This is a fraternity out here - that's one of the great things about being out here for 17 years."
"I enjoy playing with Rory. He's a great kid. Over the years there are certain pairings for me that I've enjoyed and Rory is one of them.
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McIlroy echoed the sentiments of Woods and acknowledged the chance to play with the 14-time major champion always brings and extra element of excitement.
"It was good," he said. "I always say groupings like that have a great atmosphere, a great buzz."
The only man to match Woods' 66 on day one was Justin Rose and the Englishman admits his relaxed attitude could help him with so much to play for this week.
Despite entering the week ranked 24th in the points list, Rose still has a chance of the £6million pay-out - plus another £900,000 for the tournament - under the way the points are reset before the final event.
"Just being here at this tournament is a good feeling," he said. "I think 21 of the top 22 players in the world are here, so that gets your juices flowing.
"From the FedExCup point of view it's a position of having nothing to lose, really. Obviously I'd like to be much higher up the rankings, but maybe being a little bit looser is going to help me.
"I've only got this tournament on my mind. A lot of the other guys have two trophies on their minds."