GREG NORMAN has been stirring the Rory McIlroy versus Tiger Woods pot this week by suggesting the young Northern Irishman is intimidating his older rival.
On the eve of the 2012 US PGA Tour Championship this week, Norman has suggested we are seeing a changing of the guard.
The Shark told the American media he believes McIlroy is taking Woods’s place as the dominant force in golf, much like Woods took over from Norman in the late ’90s.
“What I’m seeing is that Tiger’s really intimidated by Rory,” Norman told Foxsports.com.
“When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never.
“But I think he knows his time’s up and that’s normal; these things tend to go in 15-year cycles. Jack (Nicklaus) took it from Arnold (Palmer). I took it from Jack, Tiger from me and now it looks like Rory’s taking it from Tiger.”
And while the two rivals, who face off directly for at least the first two rounds of the Tour Championship in Atlanta this week, have laughed off the suggestion, you’d think the issue was at least somewhere in the back of the minds of each of them.
“He’s got a new nickname for me, actually. He calls me the Intimidator,” McIlroy joked at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
“No, how can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy’s got 75 or 70 whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 majors. He’s been the biggest thing ever in our sport.
“How could some little 23-year-old from Northern Ireland with a few wins come up and intimidate him. It’s just not possible.
“I don’t know where he (Norman) got that from, but it’s not true.”
Woods, 36, also used humour to deflect the comments.
“It’s got to be the hair,” the now world No.2 said.
Woods claimed he’s never felt intimidated on the golf course by another player.
“No one is the size of (American football linebacker) Ray Lewis who is going to hit me coming over the middle,” he said.
“This is a different kind of sport. We go out there and we play our own game, and see where it falls at the end of the day.
“This is about execution and going about your own business. Here no one is affecting any shots.”