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It's tough at the top . . . just ask Mr Woods

Rory McIlroy says he has a greater appreciation for the achievements of Tiger Woods after having claimed his second successive major title at Valhalla.

McIlroy also won a first World Golf Championship event in between his victories in the Open Championship and US PGA Championship, a feat which the 25-year-old admits has taken its toll.

Woods has won 14 major titles and 79 PGA Tour titles but missed the cut at Valhalla in just his fourth event since undergoing back surgery in March.

"To be up there with the lead week-in and week-out and trying to win these big golf tournaments, it's tough, mentally and physically," McIlroy said. "I was a little flat the first six holes of the final round but just sort of told myself, we have 12 holes left, you can take a week off after this and enjoy it.

"It makes you appreciate more what Tiger has done in the past: getting on these runs that he's gone on and keeping it going for months on end basically. That's why I think off-weeks are important. I think this week for me is going to be very important just to recharge the batteries and get ready for the big stretch of golf that we've still got coming up."

McIlroy has moved to the top of the FedEx Cup standings on the PGA Tour and if the world No.1 can remain in that position after the four play-off events, he would claim a $10m (£6m) bonus.

In 2012, McIlroy was ranked third entering the play-offs and won the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship to claim top spot with just the Tour Championship to contest. However, Brandt Snedeker, who was ranked fifth in points, won at East Lake to claim the FedEx Cup title. "I came close a couple of years ago and didn't quite get the job done," McIlroy added. "But I feel like my game's in good enough shape that I can keep this run of golf going and try to win that.

"I want to try to go into the Ryder Cup with the best possible form that I can and then finish the season off well. I've got a few tournaments in the Far East, the Race to Dubai and then I'm going to go down and defend the Australian Open and then that's going to be me shutting it down for the year."

McIlroy has a lead of almost €3m over Sergio Garcia at the top of the Race to Dubai standings and was already guaranteed his place on the Ryder Cup team for Gleneagles at the end of September.

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