McIlroy and Westwood's rivalry remains alive and well
A healthy rivalry can be a positive thing and Rory McIlroy in his short career so far has never been one to back down from a barney.
McIlroy refuses to bite but Westwood rivalry remains alive and well Sparring partner: Lee Westwood
But both he and Lee Westwood were at pains to play down their supposed rivalry ahead of their meeting in the semi-final of the WGC World Matchplay in Tuscon — a confrontation the Ulsterman won comfortably in the end.
The American press in particular was keen to play up stories of animosity between the two and, to be fair, the pair’s taunts at each other over recent months on Twitter provided them with the necessary ammunition.
They clashed during last year’s Seve Trophy which McIlroy sat out and claimed to be supporting the Continental European side playing against Westwood’s Great Britain and Ireland.
“Apparently Rory’s half-Danish now,” the Englishman tweeted, a reference to McIlroy’s girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki.
“What shall I be Irish/British British/Irish? Confused.”
To which McIlroy responded: “At least I’m not English.”
Both men were chasing the number one spot in the world rankings which they would have achieved had they won Sunday’s final.
But McIlroy had perhaps run out of steam in coming back from three down early on to see off Westwood four and two in the morning semi-final, losing the final two and one.
For Mahan it was a measure of revenge over Northern Ireland after he lost out in spectacular style to Graeme McDowell in the Ryder Cup clincher at Celtic Manor 18 months ago.
McIlroy has been disarmingly honest in his interviews since turning professional and his views have at times landed him in hot water.
He has eaten some humble pie over his remarks about the Ryder Cup since experiencing the heat of battle himself at Celtic Manor.
But more serious were his remarks about commentator Jay Townsend, after the American had questioned his caddie JP Fitzgerald during last year’s Irish Open.
“Shut up you’re a commentator and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing,” he said, remarks he later apologised for.
It has been suggested that a rift with Westwood was one of the reasons why McIlroy last year shocked the golf world by leaving Chubby Chandler’s stable to join Dublin-based Horizon, something McIlroy hotly denies.
And Westwood said ahead of their semi-final meeting that the split meant that they obviously did not see as much of each other any more.
“Rory doesn’t want to spend time with the people that manage me, and I don’t want to spend time with the people that manage Rory,” said Westwood.
McIlroy responded: “He’s obviously a rival of mine on the golf course and he’s one of the best players in the world and a great ball striker.
“He’s a guy that you look out every week in a tournament and he’s the guy you feel like you have to beat to win.
“It’s totally fine. There’s no ill feeling between me and him or Chubby or anyone. It’s all been very, very positive.”