If Rory McIlroy was not feeling the burden of expectation that comes with being the world number one heading into a Ryder Cup, he might well be now.

Already picked out as "a target" by American player Jim Furyk and 2008 winning captain Paul Azinger, McIlroy has been favourably compared by his own captain Jose Maria Olazabal to Tiger Woods when the 14-time major winner was in his prime.

"Obviously we have the world number one, he's playing great," Olazabal said. "Even though he didn't win the FedEx Cup, the way he's played the last few months, he's been outstanding. I would say that he is at this moment very close to how good Tiger was at that stretch of time between 1999 and 2002, the way he's playing. He's full of confidence."

Olazabal added: "He's got the whole game and in that regard it's great to have players like that on your team."

That is some compliment when you consider that Woods won a myriad of regular events and seven major championships in that time, including the 'Tiger Slam' where he became the first man to hold all four major titles at the same time by winning the US Open, Open Championship and US PGA Championship in 2000 and the US Masters in 2001.

So far, McIlroy has two major titles to his credit - the US Open in 2011 and this year's US PGA Championship - and last week laughed off suggestions from former world number one Greg Norman that he now "intimidated" Woods.

Earlier, Woods said being a target was something he used to relish and McIlroy would too.

"It's part of being consistent," Woods added. "It's part of being ranked number one, it's part of winning major championships. You're always going to want to try and take out their best player, and that's just part of the deal. That's a fun challenge.

"I certainly have relished it over the years and I'm sure he's going to relish it this week."