- PGA Tour
McIlroy reveals good natured rivalry with 'baldy' Woods
The Ryder Cup gets underway at Medinah Country Club on September 28. ESPN will have extensive coverage of the event - including interactive text commentary, reports and reaction - for all three days.
Woods, the 14-time major champion, has gained a reputation over the course of his career for being somewhat cold and aloof on the course - particularly towards those players he considers his biggest rivals.
Having won two majors in the last 18 months - a better rate than any other professional on tour - and risen to No. 1 in the world rankings, McIlroy has undoubtedly emerged as Woods' most formidable opponent. The pair have been paired together frequently at recent PGA Tour events and, surprisingly to many, seem to have struck up a real rapport.
The Northern Irishman revealed that the pair enjoy making jokes at the other's expense, but also frequently discuss their lives off the course.
"Tiger gives me stick about being short. He always asks me, 'Seriously, how tall are you?'" McIlroy told the Times in a wide-ranging interview. "I'll say, 'five nine'.
"'Yeah, but without the hair? That's five seven, right?' He'll ask me, 'What do you do when Caroline [Wozniacki, McIlroy's girlfriend] wears heels?' But I give him grief about all sorts. Getting old, getting bald.
"He doesn't take himself too seriously, certainly not when I'm around."
He added: "I've been seeing loads of Tiger and I've got to know the person.
"Every time I ask him, 'What are you doing next week?' [and] he's like, 'I've got the kids and I can't wait to do this, to do that.' I can tell you he's a very committed father, which is probably all because of what happened and wanting to make up for what he did.
"He's still a great player. We've been seeing a lot of each other, in the gym, on the course."
McIlroy retold an anecdote from the recent BMW Championship, one that he believes underlines why the pair are the two top-ranked players in the world at the moment.
"There was a great moment before the pro-am at Crooked Stick," McIlroy said. "It was early morning, so early it was still dark, and Tiger and me were the only two on the range hitting balls.
"It was pretty cool. Just the two of us hitting balls on our own, no one else there. And I couldn't help thinking, with us being out there so early, 'Maybe this is why we are the best two golfers in the world'."