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McIlroy dismisses claim that Tiger is 'intimidated'

updated 1:22 PM EDT, Thu September 20, 2012
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will fight it out at the PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta with both men desperate for victory.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will fight it out at the PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta with both men desperate for victory.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • World No.1 Rory McIlroy plays down suggestion that Tiger Woods is intimidated by him
  • Comments made by Australia's Greg Norman have been made light of by both Woods and McIlroy
  • Woods aiming to beat McIlroy to $10 million prize for coming top in FedExCup overall standings
  • Tour Championship in Atlanta which starts Thursday will decide winner of $10 million jackpot

(CNN) -- Rory McIlroy has played down comments made by Australian golfing legend Greg Norman that his emergence as the world's most dominant golfer is intimidating Tiger Woods.

Norman's comments have led to Woods jokingly referring to the Northern Irishman as "The Intimidator," says McIlroy. But it's a nickname he neither deserves, nor takes seriously, he says.

"No. How can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy's got 75 or whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 majors. He's been the biggest thing ever in our sport," he added.

"How could 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," he added.

But Norman, a two-time major winner, believes a changing of the golfing guard is underway.

"When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never. I think [Tiger] knows his time's up and that's normal; these things tend to go in 15-year cycles," Norman told Foxsports.com.

Woods and McIlroy have been paired together in the opening round of the Tour Championship -- the final playoff in this year's FedExCup -- which starts at East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta on Thursday.

McIlroy will guarantee himself $10 million if he wins the tournament and has a good chance of taking the prize with a top-five finish, according to PGATour.com.

PGATour.com FedExCup winning scenarios

Victory in the Tour Championship would also see McIlroy complete four wins from his five most recent tournaments on the PGA Tour -- a sequence which began at the U.S.PGA Championship.

"It would just cap off a great year," McIlroy said. "It's hard to compare [the playoffs] to a major championship because it's a year--long thing and it's about being consistent.

"You have to play well at the right time like I have the last couple of weeks. It would be nice to have something to recognise that you have played the best golf the whole way throughout the year."

"If I win [the Tour Championship], I win [the FedExCup]," he said.

"That's the mindset I'm coming in with. I feel like I'm playing well enough to win. I know if I do that, everything else takes care of itself."

Meanwhile, McIlroy has revealed he will reconsider his decision to compete for Team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

McIlory, who was born in Northern Ireland, received funding from the Golfing Union of Ireland before turning professional in 2007.

His comments that he would rather represent Team GB were criticized in some quarters, but McIlroy says he will make a decision nearer the time.

"After everything that happened last week it definitely makes me reconsider my position and reconsider a lot of things," he added.

"I think it just really hit home with me how important it is for a lot of people and how important my success has been to them."

"Obviously, I've had a lot of support from all sides - from people that call themselves Irish, from Northern Irish, to the whole of the UK, to people over here in the States.

"It just hit home with me at how my success is welcomed by everyone. It would be terrible for me to nearly segregate myself from one of those group that supports me so much.

"It's four years away - I still have a bit of time to decide. But, I'm very, very appreciative and very grateful of the support that I get from everyone."

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