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Rory McIlroy relishing Tiger Woods comeback

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Darren Kidd

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren

REGINA H. BOONE

Rachel Uchitel

Rachel Uchitel

Afton Almaraz

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods celebrates with wife Elin Nordegren after winning the 88th PGA Championship golf tournament

Tiger Woods celebrates with wife Elin Nordegren after winning the 88th PGA Championship golf tournament

ROB CARR

Tiger Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, rides next to Woods after winning the US Open championship at Torrey Pines Golf Course

Tiger Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, rides next to Woods after winning the US Open championship at Torrey Pines Golf Course

Chris Carlson

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods (R) jogs with an unidentified friend near his home on February 17, 2010 in Orlando, Florida

Tiger Woods (R) jogs with an unidentified friend near his home on February 17, 2010 in Orlando, Florida

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Reporters listen as Golfer Tiger Woods makes a statement

Reporters listen as Golfer Tiger Woods makes a statement

Joe Raedle

Reporters listen as Tiger Woods makes a statement from the Sunset Room on the second floor of the TPC Sawgrass

Reporters listen as Tiger Woods makes a statement from the Sunset Room on the second floor of the TPC Sawgrass

Joe Raedle

The radio show MJ Morning show personalities Victory Martin  (L) and Meredith Walusek stand near one of the entrances to where golfer Tiger Woods plans on making a statement at TPC Sawgrass on February 19, 2010 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The radio show MJ Morning show personalities Victory Martin (L) and Meredith Walusek stand near one of the entrances to where golfer Tiger Woods plans on making a statement at TPC Sawgrass on February 19, 2010 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Joe Raedle

Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James)

Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James)

David McNew

Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels, right,  (aka Joslyn James)

Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels, right, (aka Joslyn James)

David McNew

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3:  Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, appears at a press conference at the offices of attorney Gloria Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Veronica Siwik-Daniels

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3: Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, appears at a press conference at the offices of attorney Gloria Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Veronica Siwik-Daniels

David McNew

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3:  Attorney Gloria Allred uses a golf golf cut-out to simulate how a club hitting a ball with the face of a woman could leave marks that look like bruises during a press conference with former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, at the offices of Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3: Attorney Gloria Allred uses a golf golf cut-out to simulate how a club hitting a ball with the face of a woman could leave marks that look like bruises during a press conference with former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, at the offices of Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

David McNew

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3:  Attorney Gloria Allred uses a golf golf cut-out to simulate how a club hitting a ball with the face of a woman could leave marks that look like bruises during a press conference with former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, at the offices of Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3: Attorney Gloria Allred uses a golf golf cut-out to simulate how a club hitting a ball with the face of a woman could leave marks that look like bruises during a press conference with former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, at the offices of Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

David McNew

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3:  Attorney Gloria Allred (R) leads former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, near a picture of a golf ball bearing the face of a woman as the leave a press conference at the offices of Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3: Attorney Gloria Allred (R) leads former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, near a picture of a golf ball bearing the face of a woman as the leave a press conference at the offices of Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

David McNew

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3:  Attorney Gloria Allred uses a golf golf cut-out to simulate how a club hitting a ball with the face of a woman could leave marks that look like bruises during a press conference with former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, at the offices of Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3: Attorney Gloria Allred uses a golf golf cut-out to simulate how a club hitting a ball with the face of a woman could leave marks that look like bruises during a press conference with former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, at the offices of Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

David McNew

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3:  Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, takes her seat near an drawing of a golf ball with her face on it at a press conference at the offices of attorney Gloria Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 3: Former adult film actress Veronica Siwik-Daniels (aka Joslyn James), who claims to have had a long-term intimate relationship with golf icon Tiger Woods, takes her seat near an drawing of a golf ball with her face on it at a press conference at the offices of attorney Gloria Allred on February 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Allred and Siwik-Daniels are calling for the end of the production of golf balls bearing an image of Siwik in the product series, "Tail of the Tiger - The Mistress Collection". Allred argues that putting the face of a woman on a ball which golfers hit with full force could result in marks on the image that might resemble bruises and may lead to inappropriate jokes about hitting women. James says that she loved Woods and had reason to believe that he loved her. She has been in seclusion and has not talked to the press until now. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

David McNew

Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren

Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren

ROB CARR

Tiger Woods and his wife Elin

Tiger Woods and his wife Elin

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

United States Ryder Cup team player Tiger Woods and his wife Elin leave at the end of the opening ceremony for the 2006 Ryder Cup

United States Ryder Cup team player Tiger Woods and his wife Elin leave at the end of the opening ceremony for the 2006 Ryder Cup

PETER MORRISON

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Three of the women whose names have been associated with Tiger Woods in recent weeks - Kalika Moquin (left), Rachel Uchitel (centre) and 24-year-old cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs

Three of the women whose names have been associated with Tiger Woods in recent weeks - Kalika Moquin (left), Rachel Uchitel (centre) and 24-year-old cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs

Holly Sampson was linked with Tiger Woods

Holly Sampson was linked with Tiger Woods

Holly Sampson linked with Tiger Wood

Holly Sampson linked with Tiger Wood

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy has long been hailed as the next Tiger Woods and Northern Ireland's golf prodigy doesn't mind the comparison — despite his hero's recent fall from grace in a storm of sex scandals.

The young Co Down man was speaking for the first time about the controversial golfer and he says he is looking forward to shaking his hand at the Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia, next month.

“I'm delighted Tiger is back and playing at the Masters. All I am going to judge him on is his golf game, nothing else,” he said. “I'm looking forward to shaking his hand when I see him. The tour would never be as good without him so I'm thrilled he's back.”

The 20-year-old golfing sensation described how he was taken aback at how fame can have a crippling effect on such a talented star.

“It's scary to see the pressure and level of fame that follows him everywhere. In a way he is a victim of his own success. But one thing you can't take away from him is when he hits the golf course he always turns it on.”

McIlroy ended his first appearance at the Masters last year by playing the last 10 holes in six under par, sending a flurry of excitement through the golfing world at a talent many believe will take him to the world number one spot.

He described his excitement at participating in the upcoming tournament, saying: “It's my favourite event of the year.

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“The course, the club, the crowd, the whole thing, it's completely different to any other golf tournament in the world. It's incredible.

“I think I have a good chance this year. I've been preparing back home in Bangor. It would be my wildest dream come true to win but it's also the toughest tournament in the world.”

Speaking of his personal life, the rising star said his mind is focused only on birdies on the green, and he has no interest in settling down just yet with girlfriend Holly Sweeney.

The long-term couple were seen out in Belfast on Friday night celebrating the Fate Awards with a host of well-known faces at Europa Hotel. Both former pupils of Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, the pair met at Holywood Golf Club in August 2005.

“I'm in no rush to settle down and get married,” he said, despite his long-term relationship.

“Golf is the main thing in my life at the minute. I have worked so hard to get where I am, I have to give it everything for the next few years. Success on the course hasn't changed me, I'm still the same guy with the same friends from back home.”

McIlroy is being tipped to fill the gap in the market left by Woods following his well-documented transgressions. With the American's troubles continuing to grab headlines, the lucrative world of golf is in need of a new clean-cut hero.

High-profile PR guru Max Clifford has said that, if McIlroy's image is marketed correctly, he could be set to make millions in advertising and commercial contracts.

“Golf desperately needs a new star,” he said. “And the timing is perfect for the young lad.

“He needs to build up his profile on and off the golf course, be seen at the right events, give out the right image and get the best coverage he can.

“If he plays his cards right the sponsorship deals should flood in. Having a stunning girlfriend on your arm always helps, of course.”


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