Rory McIlroy sat out the Arnold Palmer Invitational in favor of watching Caroline Wozniacki play tennis. (Alan Diaz / AP)

When Tiger Woods took the world’s No. 1 ranking away Rory McIlroy on Monday, McIlroy responded by texting Woods a congratulatory message.

Woods’ response was another playful kick in the pants as he needled McIlroy to get his game together — in a succinctly NSFW way (read it via the Houston Chronicle’s Jerome Solomon). It’s the latest salvo in the give-and-take between the two, which could intensify this week and in a little over two weeks at the Masters. McIlroy, who skipped the Arnold Palmer Invitational that Woods won, will play in the Houston Open this week. A win would put him back atop the world rankings.

“I didn’t think I could go into the Masters under the radar,” said McIlroy, who’d been No. 1 for 32 weeks (via the Associated Press). “I can go in a little bit underneath him. So, in a way, it’s not a bad thing.”

McIlroy spent last week relaxing and watching his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki play in Key Biscayne. He took in a Miami Heat game and hit golf balls with Wozniacki and Novak Djokovic. McIlroy raised his profile with four wins in 2012, including his second major (the PGA Championship). But, after switching to Nike early in 2013, he has struggled. He missed the cut at Abu Dhabi, lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship and abruptly quit in the middle of a round at the Honda Classic.At Doral, things went a little better and he finished in a tie for eighth.

Woods has won three tournament this year and, after months and months of reworking his game, is finally seeing results. McIlroy is adjusting as well.

“We’re not machines, we’re humans,” McIlroy said. “You’re going to have patches where you play great and have patches where you struggle a little bit. I guess you’ve just got to take the rough and the smooth and just try and treat those times, sort of play and be patient and know that you’re working on the right things.”

And perhaps trying to follow Woods’s two-step suggestion for success.

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