"I thought it was funny," Woods said Monday at a news conference to promote his annual golf tournament. "I mean, Phil has less holes to play than I do, though. What is he, five years older than me or four? Yeah, so yeah, it's a reality, you know? We're all older.
"I'm nearing my 20th season on tour here coming up pretty soon. I've been out here for a while, and Phil has been out here for a while. ... It's just part of the aging process. When I first came out here on tour, I remember seeing some of these fellow players and their kids, and now I'm actually playing against their kids. It's just how time goes on and time goes by."
McIlroy was asked last week at the Tour Championship if he sensed there was a changing of the guard given that Woods and Mickelson both failed to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time since 1992.
Ranked No. 1 in the world, McIlroy, 25, acknowledged Woods' injuries and said he expected him to be back in the Tour Championship once fit. He also pointed out that Mickelson nearly toppled him last month at the PGA Championship, where Lefty finished second to McIlroy.
"They're getting into the sort of last few holes of their careers, and that's what happens," McIlroy said. "It obviously just gets harder as you get older. I'll be able to tell you in 20 years how it feels."
Woods was at Isleworth Country Club to announce title sponsor Hero for his World Challenge, where he expects to play his next tournament Dec. 4-7.