These days, it seems like everyone has an opinion on Tiger Woods' swing, future in the sport, on-course mindset, struggles on the weekend ... and the list goes on and on. When you have 14 major championships and happen to be the face of the game, constantly being put under a microscope and analyzed from every angle is nothing new.
Woods is used to the questions about his game, but over the last month, a majority of them have centered around a completely different topic: his budding friendship/rivalry with Rory McIlroy.
Woods and McIlroy have been, shall we say, incredibly chummy recently, which led some to wonder if Woods was getting close to golf's rising star because he viewed him as a serious threat on the course.
Two-time British Open winner Greg Norman certainly believes that's the case. In a recent interview with FoxSports.com, Norman said Woods is "really intimidated" McIlroy.
"What I'm seeing is that Tiger's really intimidated by Rory," he says. "When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never.
"But I think he knows his time's up and that's normal; these things tend to go in 15-year cycles.
"Jack took it from Arnold (Palmer). I took it from Jack, Tiger from me and now it looks like Rory's taking it from Tiger."
Now here's the deal: Norman has said a lot about Woods over the course of the last year. He thought Woods was undeserving of a Presidents Cup spot and would never win another major in his career, so take his opinions with a grain of salt.
Is Woods really intimidated by McIlroy? Maybe so. But looking back at some of Woods' recent comments, he's probably more envious of the kid's game than anything else. While he isn't exactly nearing Champions Tour territory, Woods can't pull off a lot of the same shots he used to when he was in his 20s.
When Woods looks at McIlroy, he probably sees a lot of himself in the 23-year-old -- a rising talent who's just starting to hit the peak of his career. Woods' time isn't up, as Norman said during the interview, but I think the baton is certainly being passed at this very moment from one generation to another.
Believe what you want, but I don't think Tiger is intimidated by Rory. In all honesty, I think he's finally found a peer on the course who he believes has as much talent as he did when he was coming up through the ranks. There's a kinship there that most people can't see, and for the first time ever, Woods feels comfortable enough to let his guard down and share things on the course.
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