HONG KONG – Luke Donald on Monday tipped world number one Rory McIlroy to have the upper hand in a potentially mouthwatering battle for supremacy with Tiger Woods over the coming years.
McIlroy, 23, has won two majors in as many years and is viewed by many as the heir apparent to the 36-year-old Woods, who won the last of his 14 majors at the US Open in 2008.
Woods said last week he was looking forward to a “decade” of battles with the Northern Irishman, who beat the American world number two Monday at the “Duel at Jinsha Lake” exhibition match in Shanghai.
“Rory has the upper hand,” said world number three Donald, adding that Woods still had many years left in him.
“They’re phenomenal. They have star power,” the English golfer said at a media event for the HSBC Champions 2012, which will be played at Mission Hills in southern China this week.
Donald added that McIlroy had a good chance of matching his own unique feat of topping both the U.S. and European money lists in the same year.
“Rory is emulating what I did last year... congratulations to him if he pulls it off.”
McIlroy’s seemingly unstoppable rise to the top contrasts with Woods’s own shaky path in recent years.
The American’s victory at his last major came shortly before his career nosedived amid a scandal surrounding his private life which saw Woods drop out of the top 50.
However, three PGA Tour wins this year have propelled him back up the rankings.
South African Ernie Els, who will also be playing at the HSBC Champions 2012, said McIlroy and Woods were evenly matched.
“Tiger’s got all the experience in the world and Rory’s got all the power in the world right now, he’s got all the momentum,” the four-time major champion said.
“They’re really stirring the pot between the two of them and I think it’s good for golf.”
Flamboyant English golfer Ian Poulter said that the rivalry would generate worldwide interest in the sport.
“It’s an interesting rivalry that will go on for a long time,” Poulter said.
THIS WEEK IN GOLF
WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSIPS - HSBC CHAMPIONS
COURSE: Mission Hills Golf Club, Olazabal Course (7,301 yards, 6,676 metres, par 72).
PURSE: $7 million. Winner’s share: $1.2 million.
OH CANADA: None entered
NOTES: Germany’s Martin Kaymer rallied to win last yearat Sheshan International, birdieing nine of the last 12 holes for a 9-under 63 and a three-stroke victory over Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson. ...Sweden’s Peter Hanson won the BMW Masters in Shanghai last week for his second European Tour victory of the year, holding off Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy by a stroke at Lake Malaren. He also moved into second place on the Tour's money list behind McIlroy and can overtake him with a victory this weekend. ...Tiger Woods and McIlroy are skipping the event after playing in a two-man exhibition event on Monday. ...The winner will get credit for an official PGA Tour victory and, if a regular PGA Tour member, receive a three-year tour exemption. The prize money doesn’t count in the PGA Tour official earnings.
LPGA TOUR/JAPAN LPGA TOUR - MIZUNO CLASSIC
COURSE: Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club (6,506 yards, 5,950 metres, par 72).
PURSE: $1.2 million. Winner’s share: $180,000.
OH CANADA: None entered (Lorie Kane, alternate)
NOTES: Japanese star Ai Miyazato, a two-time winner this season on the LPGA Tour, is skipping the tournament. Suzann Pettersen also is taking the week off after winning each of the last two events. ... Top-ranked Yani Tseng is in the field along with No. 2 Stacy Lewis, No. 3 Na Yeon Choi, No. 4 Inbee Park, No. 5 Shanshan Feng, No. 7 Jiyai Shin and No. 10 Mika Miyazato. Shin won in 2008 and 2010.
CHAMPIONS TOUR - CHARLES SCHWAB CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
COURSE: Desert Mountain Club, Cochise Course (7,026 yards, 6,425 metres, par 72).
PURSE: $2.5 million. Winner’s share: $440,000.
OH CANADA: None entered
NOTES: The top 30 on the money list qualified for the event. ... Bernhard Langer leads the Charles Schwab Cup standings, 211 points ahead of Tom Lehman. Roger Chapman is third, 657 behind Langer. The points winner will receive a $1 million annuity. ... Langer also leads the money list with $2,023,296.
eGOLF PROFESSIONAL TOUR - FOREST OAKS OPEN
COURSE: Forest Oaks Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina
OH CANADA: Richard Boychuck, Cam Burke, Zack Schnurr, Ryan Terdik