Rory McIlroy once pretended to be a photographer to stalk Tiger Woods

Devil Ball Golf

There was a day not so long ago when Tiger Woods was the absolute pinnacle of the golf world. (It's true, we looked it up.) Galleries would throng to watch his every move. Men would want to play like him, women would want to ... well, let's not pursue that line any further.

Anyway, this obsession with Tiger wasn't just confined to civilians outside the ropes. No, even his competitors wanted to see the man up close ... and some went on to challenge Woods on every level.

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Rory McIlroy, reigning U.S. Open champion and unquestionably one of the finest talents now playing, is preparing for the Dubai Desert Classic this week. And he noted that the first time he was at the event, way back in the misty pasts of 2006, he took a rather unconventional approach to checking out the then-world No. 1:

"I remember I played on Thursday morning, and then on Thursday afternoon Tiger was playing. I came out in the afternoon and took one of the photographer's cameras off of him and was able to follow inside the ropes, which was pretty cool."

[Related: Caroline Wozniacki follows boyfriend Rory McIlroy during practice round]

Unfortunately, apparently no photographs exist that captured a wide-eyed young McIlroy in the background watching Woods bomb his way around the course. (Spoiler: Woods beat Ernie Els in a playoff. McIlroy missed the cut by a stroke.) Still, there's no better way to get close to Woods than taking his picture ... though you do have to be careful.

McIlroy, of course, has gotten much, much better, and isn't quite so intimidated and awed by Woods any longer. And when he tees off this week, he might just have a future major winner or two eyeing him from inside the ropes, too.

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-Golf season is upon us! Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee and on Facebook here.-

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