Phil Mickelson was quick to defend Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy yesterday when he called him one of the classiest players in golf and said that the 21-year-olds desire to play Tiger Woods is the goal of every player who wants to take on the best.

Mickelson was speaking in the wake of the ongoing spat between Woods and the Ulster man. The world’s top golfer was reportedly peeved with the talented Down man after he picked him out as one of America’s weak links.

McIlroy told the BBC last month “I would love to face Tiger, unless his game rapidly improves in the next month or so, I think anyone in the European team would fancy his chances against him."

Mickelson sang high praises of the young golfer when he told the LA Times that he was surprised McIlroy’s comments had received so much coverage.

"That's the type of charisma that Rory McIlroy has, he's just like any other top player that wants to take on the best. That's not any type of controversy or saga." Mickelson said.
Mickelson was quick to dispel any rumors that the two golfers were at war with one another.

"They get along great, are you kidding me?" Mickelson said. "Rory is one of the nicest guys you can imagine. He's one of the classiest guys out on tour. Tiger gets along with just about everybody — usually because he beats them, and he's nice to them when he beats them. Rory is as classy a guy as there is. I've been paired with him a bunch, and I really enjoy playing with him."

Mcllroy will make his debut for the European team this weekend as they attempt to reclaim the Ryder Cup from the United States at Celtic Manor in Wales.