Sports

Stage set for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth for rivalry that's still one-sided

  • Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, gestures as he answers a question during a news conference before practice at The Players Championship golf tournament Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, gestures as he answers a question during a news conference before practice at The Players Championship golf tournament Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, smiles during a news conference before practice at The Players Championship golf tournament Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, smiles during a news conference before practice at The Players Championship golf tournament Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Tiger Woods hits his approach shot on the 18th hole during a practice round for The Players Championship golf tournament Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    Tiger Woods hits his approach shot on the 18th hole during a practice round for The Players Championship golf tournament Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)  (The Associated Press)

Rory McIlroy remembers a 19-year-old Texan who had secured a spot on the PGA Tour and seemed very polished for his age. That was the first time he played with Jordan Spieth two years ago in the Texas Open.

They play again in The Players Championship under new circumstances.

McIlroy is No. 1 in the world. Spieth went up to No. 2 with his Masters victory. The stage is set for a rivalry, though McIlroy was quick to point out how quickly the outlook can change. A year ago, McIlroy was struggling and not all that much in the conversation — and Tiger Woods was No. 1 in the world. Now he's No. 125.

McIlroy borrowed a line that Jack Nicklaus once told Woods. He just wants to make sure any rivalry includes him.