Following the painful breakup of his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki in May, Rory McIlroy has zoomed to the No. 1 ranking in the world with the best stretch of golf in his career.
But while headlines have linked the two developments, McIlroy says one does not have anything to do with the other.
"That was taken out of context and spun by the media'' he told Willie Geist on TODAY Tuesday. "What I was trying to say was, it's not directly related in any way. I may or may not have a little more time on my hands these days, but that doesn't mean to say that is why I'm playing great golf. Regardless of if I'm in any relationship or not, I'm capable of great golf."
McIlroy closed out his season by winning the PGA Tour's last two major tournaments, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, to give him four major titles at the age of 25.
"Golf is a difficult game, and at times you get runs like this where it seems easy, but golf has a way of knocking you back down a peg or two,'' he said. "And I'm just sort of waiting for that moment. It hasn't quite come yet."
With his golf game at its peak, McIlroy has been able to have some fun off the course. On Monday, he dropped by "The Tonight Show" to play a game of "Face Breakers" with Jimmy Fallon and Tiger Woods. McIlroy smacked golf balls into glass windows featuring Fallon's face, while Jimmy tried to keep up by hitting ones into the windows with McIlroy's face, with some coaching by Woods. The conclusion was so foregone that McIlroy's name was on the trophy before it even started.
McIlroy's dominant stretch has drawn comparisons to Woods, who has 14 major titles in his legendary career, the second-most in history behind the 18 won by Jack Nicklaus.
"It's a huge compliment to me to be compared to Tiger or Jack,'' McIlroy said. "I don't by any means think I'm the next Tiger. I'm the first Rory McIlroy. The only Rory McIlroy.
"What he did for golf in the late '90s and early 2000s, no one will be able to replicate. But I'll try to replicate some of what he did on the golf course."
The only gap in McIlroy's resume is a title at the Masters, one of the four majors along with the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and British Open. In 2011, McIlroy appeared to be closing in on his first green jacket when he led the Masters by four strokes going into the final round, but he shot a disastrous 80 and finished 15th.
"I've always been obsessed with the Masters,'' he said. "Now it's the only major championship I haven't won. Now I'm prepared for that. I'm ready for it."