Graeme McDowell congratulated Rory McIlroy for becoming number one in the world, saying: “He’s the best player I’ve ever seen.”
McIlroy, golf’s man of the moment, yesterday held off a challenge from the sport’s last big star, Tiger Woods, to win the Honda Classic in Florida and replace Luke Donald at the top of the rankings.
Woods carded an eight-under-par 62 but, coming from nine behind, it was not enough to stop McIlroy.
“He deserves it,” said fellow Northern Irishman McDowell. “I think he’s the best player on the planet right now.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever seen tee-to-green, period. I didn’t have a chance to play with Tiger early-to-mid-2000s when Tiger was the man, but Rory McIlroy is the best player I’ve ever seen.”
McIlroy’s putting has often been questioned, but it came to his rescue on the final day.
On the front nine he saved pars from 13, eight and 12 feet and all day he did not miss once from under 10 feet.
McDowell added: “As soon as he learned how to putt, he was going to be a dominating force, and you’re starting to see that now.”
McDowell feels a prolonged return to form from Woods would be good for the game.
“This golf season just got a lot more spicy,” he said.
“Obviously Tiger is back doing outrageous things that only Tiger can do, and you know, we have got a world-class field around him now as well.
“So I’m excited to be part of that.”