Dubai: Tiger Woods is the best golfer Luke Donald has ever played against and Rory McIlroy is the most talented.
The No.1-ranked Englishman had compared the two players on Wednesday ahead the start of the Dubai World Championship, but he backtracked on his assessment a day later and said on Twitter that he had meant no "disrespect" to Woods.
"A few people aren't understanding what I meant. The word 'talent' and Rory, to me, means a free-flowing swing who makes everything look so easy," Donald tweeted. "TW (Woods) has always been the best at getting the ball in the hole when it mattered the most. That's not just talent that something else, too."
Donald tweeted again a short time later that Woods "is still the greatest player I played with."
But on Wednesday, Donald seemed to have had a different take. Asked if McIlroy was the best player he ever played with, including Woods, Donald said the 22-year-old Northern Irishman topped the list.
"I believe so, yeah. Just in pure talent," Donald said. "I think Tiger's work ethic has always been tremendous and his mindset as well. I think his mindset is what has separated him from the field when he was really at the top of his game. But in terms of talent, I think Rory has more talent."
Donald's comments comes as Woods is enjoying a resurgence, having won the Chevron World Challenge on Sunday to end a two-year title drought that began shortly after his personal life imploded.
His victory was welcomed by all of the other top names in golf, including McIlroy, who said he would relish the chance to face Woods now that he is showing signs of returning to his old form. The third-ranked Lee Westwood also welcomed back Woods, calling him "the biggest name in golf and probably one of the biggest names in world sports."
Donald and McIlory are battling it out for the European money title. Trailing Donald by just under €790,000 ($1 million), McIlory must win the Dubai World Championship and hope his rival finishes outside the top nine to capture the title.
Should Donald claim the title, he would be the first golfer to win both the European and American money titles.