Rory McIlroy reckons European golf can take advantage of Tiger Woods’ troubles and have a bumper year in the majors.

With Woods under fire after a series of sex scandals that have kept him out of the game for close to five months, the Holywood idol believes a host of in-form Europeans have the game to dominate the 2010 majors.

Set to begin his Masters countdown in the Shell Houston Open, McIlroy said: “All the attention will be on Tiger at Augusta and that’s probably is good for the rest of us - especially with so many British and European guys playing so well. 

“I think this is going to be one of the years where it will be our best chance to win a major. 

“Padraig has won three in the last couple of years but apart from that European and British golf has been pretty barren as far as the major championships go. 

“It is a great chance for us this year to try and win one. There is myself, Lee, Poults, Casey, Kaymer, Stenson, Sergio - there are so many people who could go ahead and win one this year.”

Woods is still the hot favourite to win his fifth green jacket next week, despite the fact that he hasn’t played a competitive round since winning the Australian Masters last November.

But unlike Jack Nicklaus, who thinks Woods could pay for his long lay-off, McIlroy reckons the world No 1 can never be written off.

He said: “He has won 14 majors and the rest of the field combined probably hasn’t won 14 between them. 

“Any time he plays he is going to be a favourite and even more so in a major championship because he has so much more experience going down the stretch that most other players do. 

“If you look at it, Ernie Els is playing great the minute but Phil Mickelson hasn’t played great the start of the year. 

“Steve Stricker is playing nicely but you still wouldn’t say he would be more of a favourite than Tiger. Padraig is playing quite nicely too and played okay at Transitions so he will be a factor. But Tiger is always thereabouts.”