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PGA Golf

Rory McIlroy still hopes to go head-to-head with Tiger Woods in major

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Despite the perception that it is extremely unlikely to ever occur at this point, Rory McIlroy said he still hopes to one day go head-to-head with Tiger Woods on the final day of major with the championship up for grabs, something that has never happened.

“Hopefully if he can get healthy, I would still love to have a crack at him down the stretch in a major,” he said ahead of his defense of his title this week at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, via ESPN.

Given Woods hasn’t come close to sniffing a major victory in years and hasn’t won one since securing his third U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008 — and his 14th major overall — it’s clear that such a showdown is a long shot at best. But that doesn’t mean McIlroy, now the No. 2-ranked player in the world, isn’t holding out hope that Woods returns to form — and health — and competes for another major victory.

“I would love that, just once,” McIlroy said. “At this point it’s just up to him to get healthy and get his game back, and if I hopefully keep playing the way I’m playing, maybe one day it’ll happen.”

Woods hasn’t played a competitive round since the Wyndham Championship in August. He has since undergone a third surgical procedure on the same spot in his back in a span of 19 months, signaling that 40-year-old body is succumbing to the extreme pressure he puts on it with his powerful swing and finally breaking down after all these years.

Woods, who was the world’s No. 1 golfer for a record 683 weeks during his prime, has plummeted to 436th-overall, due to inactivity and inconsistency when he actually has played.

Perhaps even more troubling is Woods’ admission in December that his rehab consists mainly of walking and he spends his days playing video games.

As far as his perception of what lies ahead, Woods seems to be at peace with the enormous amount of success he has enjoyed, even if he never wins a tourney — much less a major — again.

“I think pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean McIlroy still can’t hope for a final-day major showdown with Woods. Stranger things have happened. Maybe.