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February 27, 2013

Tiger Woods on Rory McIlroy: 'He's a friend of mine, who just happens to be the No. 1 player in the world'

Posted at 5:31 PM by Ryan Reiterman | Categories: Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods

Woods_roryPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- For those who think Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are only being friendly because they share the same sponsor, Sunday's doubleheader at The Medalist, Woods' home club, proved they do like to get together when they're off the tour.

"He moved down here, and we figured let's get a game sometime," Woods said after his pro-am Wednesday at the Honda Classic. "We were kind of hoping that it wouldn't be that Sunday, but we were both free."

Woods was referring to last week's WGC Match Play Championship, where he and McIlroy were both knocked out in the first round. McIlroy said Tuesday Woods was the one who sent an invite via text. The No. 1 and 2 players in the world played 36 holes at The Medalist Sunday. Woods won one match, while McIlroy took the other.

"It was really enjoyable," McIlroy said.

When asked Wednesday to elaborate on his relationship with McIlroy, Woods said, "He's a friend of mine who just happens to be the No. 1 player in the world. That's about it."

Woods did go on to say it's different than when he first came out on the tour, and players such as John Cook and Mark O'Meara took him under their wing.

"We went out to dinner all the time and basically traveled together on tour, went fishing all the time," Woods said. "They were like my big brothers at the time. They basically still are. It's a different type of relationship."

The two superstars developed a friendship after getting to know each other at last year's Abu Dhabi Championship. McIlroy, who grew up idolizing Woods, said that experience helped him feel comfortable around his hero.

"Once you get to know him, he's just a regular guy," McIlroy said of Woods.

At the Honda Classic last year, Woods fired a final-round 62 to put pressure on McIlroy, who was in the final group. The roars from Tiger's closing eagle didn't faze McIlroy, who wound up winning by two strokes to take over the No. 1 ranking.

(Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

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