Woods and McIlroy got together for a 9-hole practice round last Tuesday in the now seriously rain-affected BMW Championship in suburban Philadelphia.
And Woods said he saw enough in the nine holes, and also knowing McIlroy’s game well, to suggest the four-time major winner’s dry run could end in a saturated ‘City of Brotherly Love’.
Weather permitting, we will know Monday if McIlroy can pull off a second Tour victory this year after steady rain Sunday forced Tour officials at 2pm local time to abandon any thoughts of starting the final round.
When play does resume Justin Rose takes a one-shot lead at 17-under par into the day and looking not only to win only to win in Philadelphia for a third time in his career but also go to world No 1.
McIlroy is tied with Xander Schauffele on 16-under and with the American seeking to also win that would undoubtedly hand him the last USA Team ‘wildcard’ pick but with that announcement due 9am local time Monday now on hold.
Woods is just five back of Rose and while looking to end his own five-year winless streak, he was praiseworthy of McIlroy’s game but called also for understanding.
“We were just having a hit around Tuesday just to get to know the golf course but what I saw of Rory’s game there wasn’t too many concerns that I would be worrying about,” said Woods.
“I hear he went out in the Pro-Am and birdied seven holes in succession and he and I then shot 62s on Thursday so it is not all that bad.
“In saying that, Rory’s playing well in streaks and just needs to put it together. The thing is he is hitting it well at times but his putting lets him down and then when he starts making everything with the putter, he is not hitting quite as well with the driver.
“I can understand he may get down on himself but we all go through stretches like that.”
And if all clicks for McIlroy in suburban Versailles, Woods can see his European Team rival being a dominating bright light as Europe seeks to regain the Ryder Cup and in the process extend Europe’s unbroken run to 29-years ahead of the 2022 Ryder Cup in Rome.
“I know how much the Ryder Cup means to him, as it does to all of us including myself, so look he’ll be alright and with the Ryder Cup again sure to bring out the best in his game,” he said.
“If he were to win here that would be a huge confidence boost for Rory heading to France, and as it would be for any of us in the two teams.”
And with the Masters to be the next Major Championship, Woods also believes McIlroy will join him and four others as members of golf’s most exclusive club.
“It’s going to happen and for sure I can see Rory winning a Masters,” said Woods.
“I know Arnold (Palmer) was getting asked for most of his career about winning the PGA Championship and the one major he needed,
“So, all we need to do is give Rory time and it will happen.”