Norman feels McIlroy taking over

Updated: September 18, 2012, 8:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The man who owned the No. 1 spot in the world for the second longest number of weeks in history believes golf is witnessing a changing of the guard at the upper echelon of the sport.

Greg Norman, in a story on FoxSports.com, said he believes Rory McIlroy's recent run of three victories -- including a major -- in his past four starts proves he's supplanting Tiger Woods as the best player in the game. And he thinks Woods knows it.

"You've got to beat the guy you're taking over from to feel that you're the top guy, and Rory's starting to do that now," Norman told the website.

The Shark also added another level of observation about the former No. 1 Woods.

"What I'm seeing is that Tiger's really intimidated by Rory," Norman said. "When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never.

"But I think he knows his time's up and that's normal; these things tend to go in 15-year cycles."

Norman was referring to how Jack Nicklaus took over the mantle as the best in golf from Arnold Palmer, then Norman from Nicklaus and Woods from Norman. Now it's McIlroy's turn.

The Australian also didn't shy away from Woods' lack of a major victory since taking the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines or his struggles on the greens in recent years.

"Look at Tiger's putting stroke," Norman told the website. "It used to be rock solid. Now, it changes from Fridays to Saturdays. And that comes from pushing too hard, wanting to win that major so badly."

Only Woods has spent more time at No. 1 than Norman.

PGA Tour victories, Norman added, will likely continue for Woods.

As for majors?

"The more you want something, the more you reach for it, the more it gets pushed away," Norman told the website. "I know all about that. I had that with the Masters.

"Tiger's pushing himself harder and harder now because he's not the force he used to be, and he knows it."