When Rory McIlroy was a prodigy growing up in Holywood, Northern Ireland, Tiger Woods was a "huge hero of mine," the 23-year-old says in this weekend's edition of "Living Golf" on CNN.
"Watching him do so many great things on TV … and then, you know, getting the chance to … compete against him is a something that I always dreamed of," McIlroy said. "To get to know him and hang around with him is something that I find pretty cool."
Not only are the two now sharing the same stage -- literally, as well as figuratively during the fireside-type chat on CNN -- they have developed into good friends after playing together five times during the FedExCup Playoffs and once at Abu Dhabi earlier this year.
But Woods said this isn't new among guys at the top of their games.
"I think we had that feeling; we just didn't share it with the public," Woods said. "I got along pretty good with the guys in my area but it was more just in the locker room and obviously down the fairways. For some reason Rory and I have become really good friends and will continue to be that way.
"You know it’s actually pretty funny you say that because I talked to Jack about it and Jack and Arnold didn't like each other at the very get go, they just didn't see eye to eye, but now they're the best of friends, so obviously that does happen – mutual respect over time and getting to know someone.
The "Living Golf" interview, which airs at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, was shot prior to their made-for-TV, head-to-head battle in China. In a wide-ranging discussion, the two friendly rivals talked about the Ryder Cup, the changing landscape of the game and their individual seasons as well as their relationship.
"I think as Rory was alluding to, we have a lot in common," Woods said. "Granted, there's an age difference but I had a huge age difference with my other good friend (Mark) O'Meara, but we had so much in common, just so easy to be around and I think our relationship will certainly grow over the years, but so too will our competitiveness – I don't think that's going to change."