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Chris Carlson/AP/Press Association Images McIlroy has played down the rivalry between himself and Tiger Woods.
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Rory McIlroy plays down Tiger Woods rivalry
The Northern Irish golfer also described competing against his idol as “a dream come true”.

WORLD NUMBER ONE Rory McIlroy has played down any rivalry between he and 14-time Major winning Tiger Woods ahead of this week’s $US 5.2million World Golf Final in the Turkish resort of Belek.

While sponsors draw heavily on McIlroy versus Woods in promoting the event, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman does not see it that way.

“I’m looking forward to tackling Tiger as everyone knows he’s been a hero of my growing up,” said McIlroy to reporters.

“To get to play alongside him these days and to compete against him is a dream come true.

“This will be the first match where we have played against each other head-to-head compared to individual stroke play so it should be fun, and it’s a match I would really like to win.

“But while I would rather be a part of this than not, I’m in a great position being compared to Tiger.

“However people who watch sports want to see some form of rivalry between myself and Tiger but I don’t see it as that’s what Tiger and I have.

“It’s just great to see events like this and I am just pleased to be mentioned in the same conversation with Tiger.”

McIlroy and Woods join six others including Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar and Charl Schwartzel in a medal match-play format for a first prize of $US 1.5million and with the eighth placed receiving $US 300,000.

Woods arrived in Turkey for a first visit to mainland Europe since 2003 and immediately expressed his personal disappointment at last month’s Ryder Cup when he managed to secure just a half-a-point in his seventh appearance, and that was after conceding the final putt of the competition to Italy’s Francesco Molinari.

“I had an opportunity to earn three points in the team sessions and I didn’t do that,” said Woods.

“My point there at the end didn’t matter as it was all said and done.

“But it didn’t set in for me for a few days as to what happened in Medinah.

“I texted Freddie (Couples) and Steve (Stricker) quite a bit, and like anything it is a tournament lost and you have to move on and focus on the next event.

“We lose far more than we win in this sport and you learn to move on and the next event is this week here in Turkey, and I’ve got a good match-up with Charl (Schwartzel).”

Unlike Woods, McIlroy has been to Turkey before, supporting girlfriend and tennis star Caroline Wozinacki for the season-ending WTF finals.

However on this occasion Wozinacki is present to support McIlroy and the Northern Irishman is determined to continue his recent run of success with victory along the Mediterranean shoreline.

“It’s going to be a very exciting week with eight of the best players in the world and the people of Turkey are going to see an event they’ve never seen before,” he said.

“I am still trying to come down from the high of the Ryder Cup but it’s just nice to be here.

“I haven’t touched a club since the Ryder Cup and I’ve just been chilling out with Caroline so I will get to the golf course early Tuesday morning and see if it’s still there.”

In the opening matches on Tuesday McIlroy will play Matt Kuchar, Woods takes on Charl Schwartzel, Hunter Mahan lines up against Justin Rose, and Lee Westwood clashes with Webb Simpson.

McIlroy will play Schwartzel on Wednesday morning and then face Woods in the afternoon.

McIlroy, Woods, Schwartzel and Kuchar are in group one and the leading two players go through to Thursday’s semi-final when they play the top two players from Group B that include Westwood, Mahan, Rose and Simpson.

- © AFP, 2012

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