In his press conference Wednesday at East Lake Country Club, Rory McIlroy joked about Greg Norman's recent comment that Tiger Woods is "intimidated" by McIlroy:
McIlroy has never before teed it up in the Tour Championship, but he's the hottest golfer on the planet and the clear front-runner to take home the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize. However, the other names in the top five on the points list are Woods, Watney, Mickelson and Snedeker. McIlroy will play the first two rounds of the Tour Championship with Woods, as he has throughout the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Q. Greg Norman made some headlines with comments saying that Tiger is intimidated by you. Did you see those comments and what were those thoughts?
RORY McILROY: He's got a new nickname for me, actually. He calls me the Intimidator. He's obviously seen them too [smiling]. No, how can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy's got 75 or 70‑whatever PGA TOUR wins, 14 majors. I mean, he's been the biggest thing ever in our sport.
I mean, how could some little 23‑year‑old from Northern Ireland with a few wins come up and intimidate him. It's just not possible. I don't know where he got that from, but it's not true [laughing].
Q. Was there ever a time when you were intimidated by Tiger? RORY McILROY: No, I don't think intimidated is the right word. More just in awe of what he's done, of his accomplishments, of his achievements, but never intimidated.
Q. On the same lines here with Tiger, the fact that you've won four times with him sort of breathing down your neck this year. How satisfying is that, and what does that say about your development?
RORY McILROY: It is a great feeling to be able to hold off the best players in the world. He came charging on me at the Honda this year, and I was able to hang on and win there. At the Deutsche Bank he was in the group ahead of us and making a run. Not so much last week at the BMW, he was a little far behind. But you look at the leaderboards the last few weeks and you see all the great names and top players on those leaderboards, and to be able to come out on top in recent weeks is obviously very satisfying.
Tiger Woods also laughed off Norman's comments at his press conference Wednesday.
Q. Are you sick of playing with Tiger, and do you think he's sick of playing with you?
RORY McILROY: [Laughing] No, it's great. It's a great position to be in. Every time that we get paired up, I'm obviously very excited for it. It's a great buzz. It's a great buzz around the group. So, no, it's still a great thing for me. You'll have to ask him if he feels the same way. But for me it's very exciting, and I'm looking forward to that first tee on Thursday.
Since both players will be traveling to Chicago for the Ryder Cup after this week's finish, there's a chance they might find themselves facing off again next week.
Q. Greg Norman made some headlines yesterday saying that you're intimidated by Rory. Did you see those comments and what were your thoughts? TIGER WOODS: It's got to be the hair, yeah.
Q. Are you intimidated by Rory? TIGER WOODS: As I said, it's got to be the hair.
Q. Have you ever been intimidated by any other golfers? TIGER WOODS: No, no one is the size of Ray Lewis who is going to hit me coming over the middle, so this is a different kind of sport. We go out there and we play our own game. And see where it falls at the end of the day.
As I said, it's not like you go over the middle and some guy is 255 pounds and going to take your block off. This is about execution and going about your own business and see where tends up at the end of the day. It's just the nature of our sport, which is different than some sports.
Some individual sports, such as tennis, you actually can do that physically, because you're playing against somebody. Here no one is affecting any shots.
You can read full transcripts of McIlroy and Woods' press conferences on asapsports.com. Related: Ryder Cup Preview | Tour Championship tee times | Galleries: Tiger's career | Rory's career Photo Credit: Associated Press
Q. You said in a recent interview that you would look forward to maybe pairing with Tiger on Sunday at the Ryder Cup. Is this something that you guys have talked about? If so, have you brought it up to Jose [Olazabal, European captain]?
RORY McILROY: No, it's about the team. It's about the 12 guys as part of the European team and the US Team. It's not about one guy playing another guy. Of course there are a lot of people that would like to see it. It would be very exciting to be a part of, of course. But I just want to win as many points as possible for Europe, and that's all I can really do.
I'm not going to sit here and lie and say I wouldn't enjoy it, because I would. But I think that's up to the captain to decide where I play and where he wants to put me, and whatever decision he makes is good with me.