"I think you could compare him to Tiger no problem” - Harrington

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will clash for golf’s major titles over the next decade. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.iePadraig Harrington believes Rory McIlroy will leave Tiger-like mark on the game.

When he captured the 2007 Open at Carnoustie, the Dubliner tipped McIlroy to win multiple majors after the 17-year old Holywood star claimed the gold medal awarded to the leading amateur.

Now Harrington reckons McIlroy can easily stand comparison with Tiger Woods and herald in a 20-year reign of dominance.

Impressed by McIlroy’s stunning rise to world No 1, Harrington said: “He’s got the look of a world No 1 in that he has a big, spectacular game.

“He’s got a game that people think is a world No 1’s game and that’s why nobody is going to have any complaints about Rory being world No 1.

“I think he’ll be around for a long time.  I believe he takes a very balanced view to his golf. He doesn’t seem to be too obsessive about it.

“That says a long career and he is doing everything right.

“As I said a few years ago, there are very few players as good as him at his age out there winning tournaments.

“There are guys out there with potential but has already delivered. And he keeps a really good balance in his golfing life.

“He doesn’t look to me like a guy who is going to burn out. So he could be here for a while.”

McIlroy has been hailed as the new Tiger since he burst on the US scene in 2009 with that run to the quarter-finals of the Accenture Match Play.

And Harrington sees no reason why they can’t be compared given the fact that the Irish ace is just 22.

He said: “Is it fair to compare him with Tiger? Why not? There are a lot of similarities between them.

“He’s won a major at a very young age, same as Tiger. He’s got the game. Yeah, I think you could compare him to Tiger no problem.”

Woods has won 14 majors and needs five more to break Jack Nicklaus’ record haul.

But Harrington sees no reason why McIlroy can’t continue to win Grand Slam titles for the next 20 years.

He said: “Just like Tiger, he has the ability to hit some great golf shots as well. I know he has a lot to do and there is no doubt that if Tiger’s 14 majors is incredibly impressive, it just shows how impressive Jack’s record is.

“But if you are going to go on and win a lot of majors, you have got to start winning them early.”

Harrington tipped McIlroy to become a major champion during his Open Championship acceptance speech in 2007.

And he has his fortune teller’s hat on in Palm Beach again on Sunday, predicting a huge career for the Irish star.

Recalling his Open win at Carnoustie and prediction that McIlroy would win “plenty of majors, he said: “At the time he was a future major champion and as I said, he could go on and win a lot of these majors because of the fact that he has the ability and he is young enough.

“And winning - as Jack has proved or any of these guys - winning a number of majors is about longevity of competing in those tournaments.

“You just can’t turn up and win them outright and say ‘this is me, i’m the best player, i should win.’ You need a long spell of competing.

“That’s how Jack did it and that’s how Tiger is doing it. He has done it in a very tight space of time.

“But the likelihood is Tiger will come back in and win some more. His will be done over 20 years or more and Rory has those 20 years ahead of him.”

Graeme McDowell has no doubt that McIlroy is the top player on the planet right now and predicts huge things for his pal.

G-Mac said: “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.  

“As soon as he learned how to putt, he was going to be a dominating force, and you’re starting to see that now.

“A couple years ago, there was probably a little question mark about his putting from inside six feet.  

“His stroke was a little bit across the line, but the work he did with Dave Stockton pre‑Congressional last year has made a huge amount of difference, and now he believes he’s a great putter.  

“That was the missing link, because the rest of his game is all there.“