“You’ve got to beat the guy you’re taking over from to feel that you’re the top guy, and Rory’s starting to do that now,” Norman said, according to the report.
Woods and McIlroy have been particularly chummy on the course in recent weeks. (They also are paired in the first round of this week’s Tour Championship.) Some believe that it is the start of a good-natured rivalry between the two, one that can last another five or 10 years. Norman, however, views it differently.
“What I’m seeing is that Tiger’s really intimidated by Rory,” Norman said, according to the report. “When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never.
“But I think he knows his time is up and that’s normal; these things tend to go in 15-year cycles. Jack (Nicklaus) took it from Arnold (Palmer). I took it from Jack, Tiger from me, and now it looks like Rory’s taking it from Tiger.”
That’s not to say Woods, 36, is ready to evolve into the role of elder statesman and rarely challenge for golf’s biggest titles, Norman said.
“It takes 10,000 hours of hard work to get to the top and stay there – that’s 10 years of hitting a lot of golf balls – and it takes its toll on the body,” Norman said, according to the report. “By the time you get to your mid-30s, the repetitive motion of hitting a golf ball leads to all kinds of issues, and if you look at Tiger, you can see that’s true. He’s got Achilles problems, knee problems; the signs are all there of a decay that’s inevitable.”