High stakes as Woods and McIlroy square off

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 20 2012 02:27 PM | Updated as of Sep 20 2012 10:27 PM

ATLANTA, Georgia - World No. 1 Rory McIlroy will once again be paired with 14-time major winner Tiger Woods as he shoots for his fourth victory in his last five events at this week's Tour Championship.

Woods and McIlroy tee off as the final pairing of the 30-man PGA Tour field on Thursday.

It will be the fifth time in the last four tournaments that Woods and McIlroy have played in the same group and the eighth time this year.

McIlroy says he's pleased with what he has accomplished on the PGA Tour this year but doesn't think Woods is intimidated in any way by him.

"No, how can I intimidate Tiger Woods?" he said. "The guy's got 75 or 70 whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 majors.

"He's been the biggest thing ever in our sport. I mean, how can 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 got that from, but it's not true."

McIlroy was referring to a recent comment from former Australian golfer Greg Norman who said he believes Woods sees the two-time major winner McIlroy as a threat.

"What I'm seeing is that Tiger's really intimidated by Rory," Norman said. "When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never."

Woods has seen numerous rivals come and go during his 17 years on the PGA Tour. McIlroy heads into the Tour Championship as world number one and first on the the PGA Tour's money list.

McIlroy began his recent run of fine form with a record eight-shot victory at Kiawah Island in the PGA Championship for his second major.

He won back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff events in Boston and Indianapolis to stretch his lead in the world rankings and become the front runner to collect the $10 million bonus that will be handed out after the final round at East Lake.

As far as not being intimidated goes, McIlroy can say the same for Woods.

"I don't think intimidated is the right word," McIlroy said of Woods' towering presence. "I am more just in awe of what he's done, of his accomplishments, of his achievements. But never intimidated."

There are a number of players who could win the $10 million bonus, heading into the Tour Championship which will determine the FedEx Cup playoff champion.

The points are reset to give each of the 30 players in the field a mathematical chance, with the higher odds going to the higher seeds.

Any of the top five seeds -- McIlroy, Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker -- need only win the Tour Championship to claim the $10 million bonus.

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