Masters golf champion Tiger Woods could have “10 years left” as a competitive player, says Rory McIlroy.
Woods (43) broke an 11-year drought to win his 15th major at Augusta National in April, to edge closer to fellow American Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.
Asked if Woods can match Nicklaus’ haul, four-time major winner McIlroy said: “I think so. It rejuvenates and re-energises that narrative.
“Tiger could be competitive at Augusta for 10 years if his body holds up.”
The Northern Irishman added: “A lot of people were comparing it to Jack in 1986 (when he became the oldest Masters winner at the age of 46), everyone knew that was going to be his last major championship.”
Woods looks set to continue his recent resurgence though. He challenged for major titles at both the Open Championship and US PGA Championship in 2018 before winning his 80th PGA Tour event – and first in five years – at the Tour Championship last September and then claiming his fifth Masters Green Jacket.
However, former world number one McIlroy (29) said he believed the American’s career was over when the pair had lunch together in 2017.
“It was March 2017, just coming off the back of another surgery, and all he was thinking about was quality of life, watching his kids grow up, being able to play soccer in the back yard,” said McIlroy who needs to win the Masters to join an elite group of players that includes Woods, to have won all four of the sport’s majors.
“His mind wasn’t even on golf, which sort of told me, ‘He’s thinking this could be it’, and from stories that I’ve heard, at the champions dinner at Augusta that year, he was saying the same things, maybe not playing competitive golf again.
“To think in two years what’s happened, it’s incredible. It’s a big deal to come back from what he has and I don’t think people quite appreciate what has gone into it.”
McIlroy will compete in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina, an event he has won twice previously. — BBC Sport