Tiger Woods has coined a new nickname for world No 1 Rory McIlroy – and started calling him ‘The Intimidator’.
But McIlroy has dismissed the notion that he fills Woods with fear, with his nickname being very much a tongue-in-cheek one.
On the eve of their latest clash - one with a £7million jackpot at the end of it - McIlroy simply laughed when asked about comments by Greg Norman.
Australia's former world No 1 sparked a debate heading into the Tour Championship in Atlanta by offering the opinion that Woods now realises he is not the best player in golf anymore.
“What I'm seeing is that Tiger is really intimidated by Rory,” Norman said in an interview. “I think he knows his time is up.”
Asked for his reaction, McIlroy, winner of three of his last four events, said: “No, how can I intimidate Tiger Woods?
“I mean the guy has 70-odd PGA Tour wins, 14 Majors – he’s been the biggest thing ever in our sport.
“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 (Norman) got that from but it’s not true.”
McIlroy does not think he has ever been intimidated by Woods either though, adding: “I don’t think intimidated is the right word - more just in awe of his achievements, but never intimidated.”
The Tour Championship is the last leg of the FedEx Cup play-offs and McIlroy and Woods are paired together again because they are first and second in the points standings.
For many fans, of course, this week is just a warm-up act before Europe defend the Ryder Cup at Medinah in Chicago.
A singles clash between McIlroy and Woods there would be the hottest ticket in town and both are keen for it to happen.
“That would be fun,” said Woods, who on Norman’s comments stated: “It’s not like someone is going to take your block off. This is a different kind of sport - we play our own game and see where it falls at the end of the day.
“In tennis you can do that (intimidate) because you are playing against someone. Here, nobody is affecting your shots.”
On a possible Ryder Cup duel, McIlroy stated: “It's about the team, it’s not about one guy playing another guy. Of course there are a lot of people that would like to see it and it would be very exciting to be a part of.
“But I just want to win as many points as possible for Europe and that's all I can really do.
“I won’t lie and say I wouldn't enjoy it because I would. But I think that's up to the captain to decide where I play and where he wants to put me and whatever decision he makes is good with me.”
McIlroy does not mind in the least that he finds himself paired with Woods again on Thursday at East Lake.
“It's great,” he added. “Every time we are paired up I'm obviously very excited for it, it's a great buzz around the group. It's still a great thing for me.”
Woods knows he cannot match McIlroy's recent results, which have included a runaway win in the last Major of the season, but is happy enough with his current form.
He was third in the Deutsche Bank Championship and fourth at the BMW Championship to set himself up for a crack at a third FedEx Cup title.
“This has been a really good season,” said Woods, who after two winless years on the PGA Tour has captured three titles.
“I'm now one of the better drivers - that's exciting for me - and my short game is starting to come around too, which is nice.”
McIlroy is a best-priced 5/1 with bookmaker Paddy Power
to win the Tour Championship and 6/4 to capture the FedEx Cup, while Woods 11/2 at Stan James
for victory in the East Lake event.