The world No 3 will be chasing a fifth major title on home soil at Royal Portrush, although is initially looking to find some form in Scotland and challenge for a third win of the year.
"It's spectacular, it's unbelievable".
"Never in a million years did I think that an Open Championship would be played again at Royal Portrush", McIlroy said.
Woods' sharpness is an unknown having not played since the US Open, and we think he needed the course to have dried out more than it has.
But it is inevitable that McIlroy more than anyone will have the upcoming Open championship at the back of his mind with the major returning to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.
"The success of Darren, Graeme, myself and Padraig as well was part of the reason why the R&A wanted to come here, and also the work done by the [club general manager] Wilma Erskine and the people of Portrush".
McIlroy, who is playing this week for the first time since last month's US Open at Pebble Beach, visited Portrush at the weekend for a practice round. There are a couple of more things I'd like to do, but I'm in a very lucky position.
"One of the phrases that I've used recently is 'give myself permission.' I want to give myself permission to be free".
"I've had a great record in the Open for the last few years so there's no reason to believe why I can't go ahead and put up a really good fight at Portrush as well".
"It's amusing. I keep thinking back and in that stretch of golf there's two tough holes, the 14th (Calamity Corner), which is now the 16th, and then the old 16th, which is now the 18th".
"One of the big things for me next week is enjoy the experience", he said as the chat in his press conference at The Renaissance Club inevitably switched to the season's final major.
"It's different shots, different greens, different conditions".
"He obviously does put a lot of extra emphasis on the majors and it works for him, but when I try to put extra emphasis on tournaments, it nearly goes the other way for me".
But he has no plans to heap further pressure on himself by putting all his focus on the majors in the style of Brooks Koepka, the world No 1 who seems to save all his effort for the four big events. I think if I do that, that's the best way to prepare for next week.
Bidding to land a first home win since Colin Montgomerie did the trick at Loch Lomond in 1999, 15 Scots are in the field, with an added incentive for the likes of Richie Ramsay, Stephen Gallacher, David Law and Grant Forrest coming in the shape of three Open Championship spots on offer for the leading players not already exempt if they can finish in the top 10 on Sunday evening. "I'm fully focused on getting out there and playing well this week and trying to get myself in the mix". So it deserves to stand-alone and not just be this tournament that's attached on to the week after.