First, Graeme McDowell labeled fellow countryman Rory McIlroy “the next Tiger Woods,” as the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland was running away with the U.S. Open in June. Now, the world’s No. 1 Luke Donald wants the golf world to believe that the one-time major champion has more on-course prowess than the formerly top-ranked competitor — with 71 PGA Tour wins and 13 more majors than Caroline Wozniacki’s boyfriend — ever had.
“I’ve always said I think Rory has the most talent of any player I’ve played with on Tour,” Donald told reporters Tuesday, prior to this week’s Dubai World Championship, where he’ll battle McIlroy for European Tour supremacy in the Race to Dubai finale.
For the record, that roster includes Woods, whose game and confidence appeared to be soaring after his win Sunday at the Chevron World Challenge.
“I believe so, yes, just in pure talent,” Donald said about the comparison between the young Rory and McIlroy’s boyhood idol. “I know Tiger is very, very close and obviously I think Tiger’s work ethic and mindset are tremendous but in terms of talent, I think Rory has more.”
Perhaps Donald, who will play to become the first golfer ever to win money titles on both the Euro and PGA Tours, was psyching himself up for the duel ahead of him starting Thursday on the Greg Norman-designed track at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Maybe he was simply returning the compliment a day after McIlroy avowed that Donald was the best golfer in the world, according to reports.
For sure, anyone who watched McIlroy pummel the field in the Open at Congressional Country Club knows there’s no doubting the skill set of the lad from Holywood. Combine the way he swings a golf club with his self-assured, somewhat cocky demeanor since his comeback from his Masters meltdown and Rory Mac may, indeed, be the heir apparent to the throne Woods left empty after his private life hit the skids.