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World number two Rory McIlroy says he still hopes to go head-to-head with Tiger Woods in the closing stages of a major championship.
Woods is currently out of action following a third back operation in 19 months, but McIlroy says he hopes the 40-year-old will recover enough to challenge for major tournaments in the future.
Woods won the last of his 14 majors in 2008, the year after McIlroy turned professional, and was not in contention in the final round of any of the Northern Irishman's majors, the 2011 US Open, the 2012 USPGA, and the 2014 Open and USPGA.
“Hopefully if he can get healthy, I would still love to have a crack at him down the stretch in a major,” he told Dubai Eye radio.
“I would love that, just once. 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.”
McIlroy, who is seeking a third consecutive Dubai Desert Classic win this week at the Emirates Golf Club, describes himself as "a huge Tiger geek".
"I could tell you all his achievements, when he won there, where he won them, where I was when he won them," he said.
"I was a huge fan of Tiger, just like a lot of my generation were. It was definitely him that set the benchmark for us that we’re trying to achieve now.”
McIlroy tied for third at the Desert Swing opener in Abu Dhabi last month, and hopes to build on that promising display this week in Dubai.
"I've just been trying to work a little bit on my putting, trying to get a little more consistent with that," he told a pre-tournament press conference.
"But the ball-striking's right there. With those slight adjustments, another week's practise, hopefully I can play a bit better than what I did in Abu Dhabi.
"The game feels good and I'm looking forward to getting started. "It (Dubai) seems to bring out my best golf."