Rory McIlroy has said we should be thankful that Tiger Woods is still alive and not wondering whether he will play golf again.
McIlroy said Woods’ health is the most important thing after he suffered serious leg injuries in a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
The 15-time golf major champion’s foot and ankle have had to be stabilised with screws and pins.
“He’s a human being and has already been through so much,” McIlroy said.
“At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he is here, that he is alive and that his kids haven’t lost their dad.
“That’s the most important thing. Golf is so far from the equation right now, it is not even on the map at this point.
“He has been in a very bad accident and we are very lucky that he is still here. I feel like we should pay tribute to him every day for being on the PGA Tour and what he has done for golf.”
Woods, 45, had to be “extricated from the wreck” by firefighters and paramedics and suffered “open fractures affecting the tibia and fibula bones” in his lower right leg “stabilised by inserting a rod into the tibia”.
He was “awake and responsive” on Wednesday following surgery, but the future of his playing career is in doubt.
Speaking before this week’s WGC-Workday Championship, which will take place at Concession in Florida, McIlroy said the players will have to focus on the tournament.
“I was looking at some of the coverage yesterday and they were talking as if he was gone,” the 31-year-old continued.
“He was in a car crash, it was really bad, he is very fortunate to be here – which is great – but that is the extent of it. We are all going to play a golf tournament and see no difference.
“It will obviously take a lot of the attention away from this golf tournament but that is nothing to do with us and we do not really feel that when we are playing anyway.”
However, while stressing that he hopes Woods will play again, McIlroy said the world of golf has to prepare for the day when Woods is no longer a player.
“It is always great when he plays in a tournament or is out here because it gives that tournament an extra dimension that it usually doesn’t have,” he added.
“I think we were all heading towards the day when Tiger was not going to be part of the game. I’m not saying that that was soon – before this accident he was rehabbing a back injury and was hopefully going to come back and play this year.
“It is inevitable one day that he won’t be playing and this is something the game of golf and the Tour will have to deal with and adapt to.
“Hopefully, he comes back and is able to play but if he is not then I think he will still be a part of the game in some way. It may be the end of seeing the genius at work with a club in his hand, but there are still a lot of ways that he can affect the game in a great way.”
McIlroy goes into this week’s WGC-Workday Championship after having missed his first cut in 30 events at last week’s Genesis Invitational, however there is no cut at this reduced field tournament.