THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. —
That’s what used to be asked about Woods. Now those questions are directed toward McIlroy.
“I think he’ll be around for a long time,” Luke Donald said.
Suddenly, a lot more than just time is standing in the way of Woods getting back to the top. There’s this 23-year-old from Northern Ireland who looks as if he’s just getting warmed up.
Is he the next Tiger? Not yet. Maybe not ever. McIlroy had a banner year by winning five times around the world, including a major. That used to be a normal season for Woods. McIlroy missed five cuts this year. It took Woods 13 years on the PGA Tour before he missed his fifth cut.
McIlroy has all the tools of greatness, and a refreshing outlook. One of the understated qualities about Woods is that for the richest guy in golf, he worked as if he didn’t have two nickels to rub together. McIlroy is coming off an amazing season and only wants to get better.
“I had a few goals starting off this year,” he said in Dubai. “Obviously, I wanted to win a major. I think I wanted to win four times around the world — five. The Race to Dubai — I won. I guess getting to world No. 1, which I achieved earlier in the year. But I guess every goal that I set for myself at the start of 2012, I’ve achieved this year. So it doesn’t really get much better than that.”
“I guess the same,” McIlroy said. “To be focused on the majors, try to win more of those. I’ve won one in ‘11, one in ‘12. It would be nice to keep that run going next year.”
If he were to win a major next year, McIlroy would join Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as the only players since 1960 to win a major championship in three successive years.