Rory McIlroy is considering a move to the megabucks PGA Tour next year and the chance to take on the real Tiger Woods every week.
The Holywood hotshot, 20, is one of the stars of the new “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 10” Playstation game, which has just been launched in Europe.
And while he’s regularly hammered Woods on his console, the Ulster ace is thinking of doing it for real by joining the star-studded American circuit in 2010.
McIlroy said: “I have got until December to make a decision on joining the PGA Tour so I have got to weigh up my options.
“I have to decide if I really want to play 15 events over there or not. I’d love to be able to play both tours but it just depends on whether it will take away from my overall performance.
“I am looking at it with my manager, with my dad and with my coach Michael Bannon to see if it will work. I can always try it out for a year or two and see if I will like it or not.
“I hadn’t planned on joining this year but we are looking into it and I will have to make my decision in the next couple of months.”
Right now, McIlroy is focussing on winning the inaugural Race to Dubai as well as next weeks’ Vivendi Trophy under skipper Paul McGinley and the World Cup of Golf with Graeme McDowell.
As for Woods, he knows that he still has a lot to learn before he can beat the world No 1 regularly on the golf course.
The hottest young talent in golf, McIlroy has had an incredible year, winning the Dubai Desert Classic and scorching from 115th to 24th in the world rankings over the past 12 months.
But it is his performances in the majors that have marked him out as one of Tiger’s biggest rivals in the years ahead.
Tied for 20th on his Masters debut at Augusta, he was tied 10th in the US Open and shared third behind YE Yang and Woods in last month’s US PGA at Hazeltine.
He said: “My consistency is what has pleased me most. When I am not playing my best I am still able to shoot a 70 keep myself in there rather than shooting a 75.
“That’s what Padraig and Tiger do when they are not quite playing well. I am a bit more knowledgeable and a bit more patient but my short game and scrambling have improved a lot this year as well.
“I don’t take on certain shots and hit at the middle of the green. Basically I am becoming a proper pro."
US fans are crazy about McIlroy, who played 11 events as a non-member of the PGA Tour this year and earned $849,719.
His manager, Chubby Chandler, said during the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship in Feburary that the world and Asian markets were more of a priority for the then teenager.
“There’s absolutely no point in him taking out his PGA Tour card,” Chandler said in Tuson. “Suddenly he has got to play 15 tournaments. Suddenly they start dictating to you.
“Rory’s going to be young for a while yet and he’s going to want to go home and have a bit of time out with his pals. The money’s not an issue. I said to him last night. For me with you there’s a totally different set of rules than there is with anybody else because we’ve got time."
Pointing to the Asian market, Chandler added: “Why does it have to be America? The players to watch are Danny Lee and (Ryo) Ishikawa. They are the two huge stars coming up because of their connection with Asia. So America doesn’t really matter and if Rory ends up with a rivalry with Ishikawa then it’s huge."
Eyesbrows were raised when McIlroy opted to take on Ishikawa and Lee in the Korea Open last week rather than defend his position in the Race to Dubai at the Mercedes Benz Championship in Cologne.
But McIlroy explained that he had been committed to the Korean event since he won in Dubai and was not lying third in the Race to Dubai.
He said: "I am happy I went to Korea instead of Cologne last week. I committed that event back in February and I didn’t want to let them down. If I had known I was going to be challenging for the Race to Dubai, I probably would have said no. But of the last 10 events this season, the prize fund in Cologne is one of the smallest so if you were going to skip an event, that would be the one."
Major championships look like attainable goals for McIlroy but a short term goal like the Race to Dubai is keeping the youngster occupied until he gets another crack at the Masters next April.
Woods won his first major when he took the 1997 Masters at 21 but McIlroy is not putting himself under pressure to win grand slam title just yet despite his liking for Augusta National.
He said: “I look at the guys around me and I feel that on a good day I can beat most of them. This year has been a great year but it has only been a stepping stone, a building block to greater things in the years ahead.
“I feel as if Augusta is a golf course that should suit my game pretty well in the future and if I walk off the last green at Augusta next year finishing 20th I will be quite disappointed because I have a very good chance to do well.
“It would be nice to win a major but if you look at Sergio Garcia, he nearly won the US PGA when he was 19. You would have thought he would have won a major by now but he still hasn’t got one.
“For someone of Sergio’s talent still not to have won a major shows that it is a very difficult thing to do.
“I am probably saying this just to calm expectations, but I’d love to be able to say one day that I have won a major - and I don't want to win just one - but it is all very well talking about it but going out and doing it is a very different thing.”
McIlroy is totally focussed on finishing off his season on a winning note and as well as next week’s Vivendi Trophy and December’s World Cup of Golf in China, he has chance to become the first winner of the European Tour’s megabucks Race to Dubai.
He said: “You have got to have short term goals and the Race to Dubai is my main goal now. There are only a few events to go and it would be great to be European No 1 at the end of it.
“Hopefully I can make the ground up on Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey and be in with a chance come November.”
As for next week’s Vivendi Trophy, he added: “I can’t wait to play under Paul. He is really excited to be the captain and I am really excited to be playing under him. I think he will be a great leader.
“It is a good build up for the the Ryder Cup next year and hopefully I will make that team.”