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Thursday, May 10, 2012
McIlroy recalls first meeting with Tiger


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Rory McIlroy begins the Players Championship as the No. 1-ranked player in the world, having moved passed Luke Donald into the top spot this week. And to think, not along ago, he was a bit overtaken by the prospect of meeting Tiger Woods.

"I think the first time I met Tiger, I was a little star struck," said McIlroy, who turned 23 last week. "I watched him on TV winning majors by 15 and 12 and doing things that no one else could.

"I was more nervous -- it's funny, I was talking about this last night. I was more nervous meeting Tiger than I was meeting Barack Obama."

McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, met Obama earlier this year at the White House as part of an Irish function. He said he met Woods at age 15 at a Scott Cameron putting studio and first watched Woods at the Dubai Dessert Classic as an amateur -- while playing in the event.

In two previous appearances at the Players, McIlroy has not made the cut. He tees off at 1:49 p.m. ET Thursday along with Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.