BY ANY RECKONING, Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a hugely successful 12 months.
Though it began somewhat inauspiciously, with his traumatic and very public humiliation at last year’s Masters tournament, a comprehensive trouncing of the field at last June’s US Open and a sustained period of world-beating form that has seen him fail to notch at a top-10 finish only once since last August have propelled McIlroy to the verge of superstardom.
He may currently be the hottest ticket in world golf, but the 22-year-old remains unmoved by suggestions his colleagues are living in the era of Rory McIlroy.
“I [believe Tiger is still the best]. You can’t judge someone just by how they’ve played over the last few weeks, the last few months. You have to look at the overall picture. Tiger’s won 14 majors and 72 PGA Tour events. People have very short memories. They forget that just a couple of years he ago, he won a U.S. Open on one leg; in 2007-08, his win percentage was over 50 percent. When he’s on, he’s by far the best player in the world.”
Unwilling to court controversy on the subject of his own ability, the Notherner was less diplomatic when it came to explaining his controversial decision to abandon Chubby Chandler’s management stable ISM for unheralded Irish outfit Horizon Sports Management.
“I felt like the path I was going down wasn’t the path I wanted to go down… Chubby and ISM were great for me starting out in 2007. I think what they have there is very good for young players because they have guys who have played on Tour before, they understand what you need. But I felt like I had reached the point where I needed something else.”
The move has been blamed for a noticeable deterioration in McIlroy’s relationship with former stablemate Lee Westwood, but the US Open champion claims a number of the pair’s more public exchanges, including McIlroy’s decision to “unfollow” the Englishman on social networking site Twitter, have been misinterpreted.
“Obviously [the media] has made a big thing out of me and Lee… I get on fine with Lee, Lee gets on fine with me. There’s no real animosity there…
“The only reason I unfollowed him is that he tweets so much. He fills up your timeline — a bit like [Ian] Poulter.”
McIlroy’s next competitive appearance will be at next week’s Masters tournament.