Woods hails 'true leader' McIlroy after dramatic PGA Tour season and LIV Golf battle

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Tiger Woods has hailed Rory McIlroy's leadership on the PGA Tour, after a busy year that saw the Northern Irishman impress on and off the course.

McIlroy has led the fight against the LIV Golf breakaway across 2022, while he has also returned to number one in the world rankings.

Woods echoed McIlroy's calls for LIV chief Greg Norman to step down earlier this week, in order to help heal golf's bitter civil war.

Now though, the 15-time major winner has expressed his wholehearted admiration for his fellow tour favourite, highlighting the respect he commands among his fellow players.

"What Rory has said and done are what leaders do," Woods said.

"Rory is a true leader out here on tour.

"The fact he's able to get things in the public eye, be so clear-minded and eloquent with it, [and then] go out there and win tournaments on top of that, people have no idea how hard that is, to be able to separate those two things.

"He's been fantastic. He's a great leader in our calls we make, and he's a great leader with all the players out here.

"Everyone respects him, and they respect him because not just his ball-striking, his driving, but the person he is."

Woods also assuaged McIlroy's earlier fears that he had given him COVID-19 on the eve of the Open Championship earlier this year, after the latter made the disclosure in an interview.

"I got tested," he added. "I was always negative. I was feeling under the weather, yes, but I never got a positive test."

Woods and McIlroy are set to partner each other in The Match later this month, with the former hoping to be fit after his withdrawal from the Hero World Challenge this week with a foot problem.