Woods had quickest start of all, but Rory on course to pip him

Sam Torrance
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THOSE seeking to assess the relative merits of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods might have noted that the current world No1 beat the former incumbent in the Duel at Jinsha Lake one-day exhibition event yesterday.

But there is a far more pertinent set of figures when it comes to proving why the young Northern Irishman bears comparison with Woods, and they relate to the European and US money lists.

Last year Luke Donald became the first man in history to officially finish top on both sides of the Atlantic – a magnificent feat – yet just 12 months on and McIlroy is looking likely to replicate the achievement.

With just a handful of events left, he is more than €800,000 ahead of his nearest challenger in Europe’s Race to Dubai and almost $2m in front of second-placed Woods in America. It’s incredible stuff.

Woods unofficially topped both lists seven times, from 1999 to 2002 and then 2005 to 2007, but did not enter the record books because he did not play the required minimum number of tournaments on the European Tour.

Yet McIlroy is poised to do it at a younger age than Woods – Rory will be 23 and seven months at the end of this year against Tiger’s 24 for his first in 1999 – and Woods has had the fastest start to a career of anyone.

McIlroy is taking a well-earned break this week, having finished a close second to Peter Hanson at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, who deserves credit for summoning a final-round 61 to move to a career-high world ranking of 17.

Over in Italy, meanwhile, there was a fairytale end to the European Challenge Tour season for young English pro Seve Benson, named after the great Spaniard and a good friend of my son’s.

Needing a top-five finish to end in the tour’s leading 20 players and earn a spot on the main tour next season, he came back in a five-under par 32 to tie for fifth and beat 21st spot on the list by just €343.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam