McIlroy's swing is better than mine was at 22, admits Tiger Woods

Even Tiger Woods believes Rory McIlroy's swing is better than his was at the same age. The former world No 1 admitted as much last night while casting further doubt on his participation at the Open Championship in two weeks' time.

Woods, who has "not hit any balls, only putted" since withdrawing from the Players seven weeks ago, was as impressed as anyone by the young Ulsterman's eight-shot win at Congressional 10 days ago. So impressed that he was prepared to agree with the assessment of his friend Mark O'Meara.

"I totally agree with Mark," said Woods, who was 21 when he won his first major, the Masters, by a record 12 shots. "Rory's swing is definitely better than mine was at the same age. He needs to continue to work on it, but he's still only 22. It's fun to see someone of that age playing the way he did and handling it the way he did after [losing at] Augusta."

Added Woods: "That was some seriously good playing... To do that at the US Open, to be that aggressive the entire time, it was cool to watch."

Of course, what would be even "cooler" to watch would be Woods and McIlroy in a battle of the generations, although it seems the world will have to wait for the duel. Woods is renowned for hugging the cards to his chest, but still his words would not have inspired any hope on the Kent coast. There are only 11 days until the field assembles and it now must be long odds-on that Woods will miss two majors in a row for the second time in 15 years as a pro.

Woods has no timetable for a return and is determined to break the habit of a career by "being smart" and not trying to play through the pain barrier in pursuit of a 15th major. "I'm going to come back when I'm 100 per cent... there's going to be no 50-50 call this time," said Woods, before outlining how he made a mistake by risking his left knee and Achilles injury at the Players. "I'm going to learn my lesson from Sawgrass [where he withdrew after nine holes]. I tried to push it too hard and hurt myself and that's why I'm going to be different this time."

Woods is no longer using a crutch or wearing a protective boot and said he would be "very surprised" if he did not play again in 2011. But, as signified by the revelation that he has so far only visited the putting green, his rehabilitation is still in its very early stages. "Every day it's gotten better. But still it's not as strong or as explosive as I'd like it to be," he said. Asked directly about when he will make a decision on the Open, he said: "We're playing it by ear... I would not go over there to show up. I would go to win the tournament."

Woods made his comments at the AT&T National in Philadelphia, an event hosted by his charitable foundation and which he is therefore attending in a promotional role. While he was exceedingly complimentary concerning McIlroy he was not about to hand over the baton to his young rival. Indeed, despite a 19-month losing run, he insisted that Jack Nicklaus's record haul of 18 majors remains as firmly in his sights as it ever did.

"I'm 35, I'm not 65 – I've still got some years ahead of me and I feel they will be my best years," said Woods.

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice