Colin Montgomerie is delighted to see Rory McIlroy take over at the top of the world rankings -- but he still thinks Tiger Woods will win the Masters next month.
Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup captain has held that view since Woods returned to his winning ways at the unofficial Chevron World Challege last December, and Woods’ closing 62 at the Honda Classic on Sunday confirmed his opinion.
The round came from too far back to prevent McIlroy from taking the tournament and dethroning Luke Donald, but as for the Masters, Montgomerie is convinced.
"Does yesterday suggest anything else?," he said on Monday at the launch of this year's competition for club golfers to raise funds for the charity set up in memory of his mother, who died of cancer in 1991. "On a course that he loves, I haven't changed my mind."
Woods is a four-time Masters champion and though his last victory there was seven years ago, his finishes since then have been third, second, second, sixth, fourth and fourth again.
McIlroy led by four with a round to go last spring, but then collapsed to an 80 and finished 10 behind Charl Schwartzel.
Having commentated on television that week, as he will be next month, Montgomerie was left wondering like everyone else how much it would affect the young Ulsterman.
"I thought it would be a lot longer than it was" for McIlroy to recover from his Masters debacle, said Montgomerie, "but it didn't even take another major."
Two months later, of course, McIlroy won the U.S. Open by eight. Now he tops the rankings and got there despite Woods' late charge.
"Two years ago Tiger probably would have snatched it after coming up in the rear-view mirror, but all credit to Rory for being stronger and more mature," Montgomerie said of the Honda Classic. "You get Woods scoring 62 in the last round and you still win -- that's a very good effort, isn't it? The best of luck to him.
"He could be No. 1 for a while, but you've got also Luke and Lee (Westwood) and Woods is as determined as hell," he explained. "He doesn't like being outside the top 10.
"I think it will be a Masters to savor, I really do -- it's got everything going for it -- and it will be a very interesting Ryder Cup later in the year, too," he added. "We've got the top four (German Martin Kaymer is behind McIlroy, Donald and Westwood), but I was looking at the rankings and the top 12 Americans are still ahead of us."
The 12th-ranked American at the moment is Bubba Watson in 23rd place, while for Europe it is Thomas Bjorn at 30th.
"It will be very close away from home," said Montgomerie of the Ryder Cup, set for September 28-30 at Medinah, outside of Chicago.