“But it’s never been a goal of mine to accomplish the major championships that he has or anything like that. Because of Tiger, everyone else has got better but he’s still in his prime. Tiger could be competing in majors until he’s 50 years old. You never know.
“You have to have someone to compare yourself against, or you always have someone that sets the bar and Tiger has been that person for the last 15 years, and if I can get anywhere close to him, I’ll be very happy.”
Away from golf McIlroy is just another kid hung up on how Manchester United does in the Premier League, a kid into fast cars, the movies and his music.
On a recent break at home he took in Belfast gigs by Chris Brown and Akon. On his recent playing visit to the U.S. he checked in with his teenage girlfriend as she prepared for her A level examinations.
Next week he will take a quick trip to Augusta for a little look before the Masters, and when he gets to Magnolia Lane for real he may well take O’Meara up on the offer of a practice round with Tiger.
“Augusta, it’s a special place,” admitted Ireland’s latest superstar. “You watch it on TV and you never really know what it’s like, or you hear the stories about it, that it’s really hilly, but you don’t see it on TV.
“There are loads of things I’m looking forward to at Augusta. The drive up Magnolia Lane, Amen Corner, walking out of the back of the clubhouse and seeing the 18th green, ninth green, first tee box. And I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Par 3 course, as well. It’s going to be great.”
His Augusta ambition is simple. Rory McIlroy wants only to be in contention on the most famous Sunday in world golf.
“You know, I’ll be coming in there probably as one of the top 20 players in the world so you’ve got to have to think that if you play well enough, you’ve got a chance to win,” he concludes.
“And that’s what my goal is at the end of the week, to play well enough to give myself a chance on Sunday; to have a chance of getting a green jacket. I can’t ask for any more than that.”
On current form he might well just deliver. Don’t be surprised if he does and the Emerald Isle finally supplies a young man to fill a suitable green jacket.