Rory McIlroy Praises Tiger Woods – ‘He Was My Inspiration And Hero’

The four-time Major winner opens up on the profound impact Tiger has had on his game

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy during the 2020 Northern Trust at TPC Boston
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has revealed the incredible impact Tiger Woods has had on him. Speaking ahead of The Players Championship, the 32-year-old said he was first inspired by Woods when he introduced himself to the world with one of golf’s great performances at the 1997 Masters.

“I watched it all. He shot 40 on the front nine on Thursday, came back in 30, and then just completely blitzed the field after that. I remember him hitting wedge like into 15 both days on Friday and Saturday. Yeah, it was just a complete masterclass.”

Woods will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this evening, where he will be introduced by his daughter, Sam, and McIlroy’s in no doubt that the 15-time Major winner is a worthy inductee. He said: “Tiger's left more of a mark on this game, I think, than anyone else basically in the history. I think the fact that he is a person of colour and what that brings to the table in terms of golf being a more acceptable sport to play if you're from a certain ethnic background. And just his play in general and the excitement he created around the game of golf, he was, I'd say in his pomp in early 2000s, he was probably the most famous man in the world. I think we all have to be very thankful for Tiger Woods and when he came along, and we should all be very fortunate that we played at a time that he was around because we've all benefitted from him."

While it’s undoubtedly hard to understate Woods’ enormous impact on the game, the influence the American has had on McIlroy has been profound, too – something the Northern Irishman was only too happy to admit. “I think everyone would love to incorporate some of Tiger Woods' game into their own. I think that goes without saying. Yeah, he was my inspiration, and I certainly tried to model part of my game off him.”

That inspiration wasn’t misguided, either, as McIlroy discovered when he got to know Woods: “I feel very fortunate because there is this sort of saying that you shouldn't meet your heroes, and Tiger was my hero when I met him, and he lived up to expectations. He's been nothing but unbelievable to me and my family, and yeah, he's been awesome, and he's been an inspiration for so many of us that are out here playing this golf tournament this week.”

As for the 46-year-old’s induction into the Hall of Fame, McIlroy explained it’s been an inevitability for years – 41, to be precise: “To see him inducted into Hall of Fame, which is obviously like a no... like of course he was going to be a Hall of Famer when he was five years old.”


Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.