Rory McIlroy signs for Nike - but Tiger Woods stays friendly
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 18/01/13 12:56pm
They are the top two golfers in the world, the biggest names in the sport and attract the most attention on and off the course, and now they are 'team-mates' after Rory McIlroy joined Tiger Woods at Nike - and the two insist they are more friends than rivals.
The top two in the world get their seasons underway in Abdu Dhabi this week, and all eyes will be on 'Team Swoosh' as they will walk in their matching gear and play matching clubs after being paired together for the opening two rounds.
Many of those attending Abu Dhabi Golf Club will be looking to see these two go toe-to-toe, but as they have tried to show in their new Nike advert, both men say the rivalry will ultimately be a friendly one even if it is ultra-competitive.
Time will tell whether the two still get along after battling it out down the stretch for a major, for instance, but for now the two appear to be getting along famously.
"It's great to spend time with him and pick his brain about a few things if I need to," said McIlroy. "It's a relationship based on respect as he was a hero of mine growing up and he's done something amazing things for golf."
It also remains to be seen how Woods will take it if McIlroy becomes the big name at Nike as well as taking over the world number one spot that was Tiger's territory for years.
Woods, though, is full of admiration for the game McIlroy has and believes the two-time major champion is only going to get better as he gets older.
"We've certainly hit it off, our relationship has grown and our friendship has got better," said Woods.
"He drives the ball beautifully, beautiful iron player and when he gets that putter rolling he makes a lot of putts.
"He's won a couple of major championships by large margins so he's got all the tools and he's only going to refine them he's only going to get better at it."