Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tiger Impressed That Rory Has Kept His Eye on the Ball

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tiger Impressed That Rory Has Kept His Eye on the Ball

Article excerpt

Byline: Kevin Garside

IF anyone knows what Rory McIlroy has gone through to become a fullyfledged sporting superstar then it is Tiger Woods.

Just five years after turning professional and with two Majors in the bag, McIlroy will become one of the biggest earners in sporting history after landing a [pounds sterling]77million five-year deal with Nike.

Woods had not even won a Tour event when he signed his first deal with Nike in 1996 -- [pounds sterling]5m a season for the three-time US amateur champion -- but the agreement was a win-win for both parties with the American going on to claim 14 Majors.

McIlroy's landmark deal is even more lucrative than the one for Woods, whose [pounds sterling]62.5m contract is up in 2014 but the 37-year-old went out of his way to welcome the Northern Ireland golfer to the Nike stable today.

Woods not only praised the world No1's game but also spoke of how impressed he was with the manner in which McIlroy had handled the ever increasing attention on him.

"A lot of things are certainly changing in his life," said Woods ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starting here on Thursday. "I've kind of been there and understand it.

"When you have success there are more responsibilities at a tournament site and more distractions that are taking you away from what you like to do, which is compete and play. That is something that he has certainly figured out, a big adjustment he made last summer.

Consequently he had a huge end of year. That was a good sign. " Having missed the cut at the US Open in June and managing to only finish 60th at The Open at Royal Lytham the following month, McIlroy won the US PGA Championship by a record eight strokes at Kiawah Island.

He went on to win another three more tournaments and ended 2012 top of the rankings and of the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic. …

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