Rory McIlroy tees off on the 18th hole during the final round of play at the Travelers Championship golf tournament Sunday, June 25, 2017, in Cromwell, Conn. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant via AP)
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Rory McIlroy has singled out world No. 2 Hideki Matsuyama for special praise ahead of this week's Irish Open at Portstewart.Matsuyama is the highest-ranked player in this Irish field and two spots higher than McIlroy, who was bumped back to No. 3 by the Japanese star after the U.S. Open and then to No. 4 by Jordan Spieth, who climbed to No. 3 on the back of his dramatic playoff victory in last month's Travelers Championship.However, that has not diminished McIlroy's glowing respect for Matsuyama.Matsuyama will contest the opening two rounds of the Irish Open in the company of McIlroy and Spain world No. 11 Jon Rahm.
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