McIlroy’s warning to Tiger when he was 9 years old: ‘I’m coming to get you’

With Tiger Woods struggling to get healthy — let alone get back onto the course or back into the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking — Rory McIlroy has clearly asserted himself as the world’s best golfer.

But most in the know find that development not the least bit surprising, since McIlroy’s focus as a child is nearly as legendary as Woods’. In fact, a recent article by Charles Siebert in The New York Times Magazine noted the similarities, making particular note of a home movie showing an 8-year-old McIlroy working with golf coach Michael Bannon:

And it is in that letter where McIlroy’s sharpest resemblance to Woods truly shows. Much in the fashion Woods keyed in on Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors when he was practically a toddler, McIlroy was gunning for Woods from the start … and with a similar bravado.

To wit, McIlroy admitted to Siebert:

One more way that McIlroy can stand alongside Woods would be by winning this month’s Masters. McIlroy, with his U.S. Open, British Open and two PGA Championship titles, already sits with Woods and Nicklaus as the only golfers with four majors by age 25. But a green jacket would give McIlroy the career grand slam, a feat accomplished by only five other golfers, the youngest of whom to do it was Woods. (Woods accomplished the career slam at age 24; McIlroy is already 25, so Tiger will at least hold that distinction over his rival.)

It remains to be seen, however, if Woods will be playing Augusta with (OK, against) McIlroy. Still dealing with back issues, the former World No. 1 played a round at the home of the Masters on Tuesday, but is still uncommitted as to whether he will play in it.

The Masters tees off April 9.