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
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

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.