Tiger Woods best days are all behind him according to young Irish golfing ace Rory McIlroy. Now the former world champion will have a struggle to return to the top of the sport's world rankings, McIlroy contends.
Currently Woods is ranked at 49th - his lowest ranking since the days when he was a novice in 1996.
'We saw the best of Tiger in 2000 and 2001. I don't think golf can be played any better than that,' McIlroy told the BBC this week.
'He didn't even need to play that well to win tournaments - he won the US Open by 15 shots, the Open by eight - so I think we've seen the best of him but that's not to say to he won't win again. But (getting back to number one) will be difficult for him because the fields are so much deeper.
He set the benchmark and that's where we're all trying to get to. I don't think anybody has got there yet but we're getting closer. It will be a tough ask for him to get back there.'
McIlroy made his comments on the day he signed a new sponsorship deal with European banking giant Santander, underlining his new status as one of sport's most marketable names.
At just 22 McIlroy, ranked third in the world, has only played six tournaments since his major US Open win but back-to-back third-place finishes bode well for him ahead of next week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
Like Woods McIlroy told the BBC he is completely focused on winning major victories. 'I want to give myself a good chance in all four majors. If I was sat down here next year and hadn't won one I'd be disappointed. It would be an opportunity missed.'
Irish Keegan Bradley now above Tiger Woods in the Official World Golf Ranking
Rory McIlroy says Tiger Woods caddie went too far
Tiger Woods talks about Rory McIlroy’s Masters win
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore