Rory McIlroy produced some dazzling golf on the back nine to overcome a sniffling Tiger Woods by one shot in their lucrative 'Match at Mission Hills' in China on Monday.
He beat world number one Woods for the second year in succession, carding a six-under-par 67 to win the exhibition match which, according to media reports, earned both men in excess of $1.5 million.
The 24-year-old has not tasted victory in a full tournament in 2013, a stark contrast to his five wins last year which included a second major title by eight shots in the US PGA Championship.
However, the Holywood man was second in the Korean Open earlier this month and believes his game is improving, partially thanks to using a new ball and driver.
"It's much better," said McIlroy, who made a controversial switch to Nike in January.
"I've seen a lot of promising signs over the past few weeks in practice and also in competitive play.
"I still have four tournaments left until the end of the season and I would love to finish 2013 strongly and get a little bit of momentum going into next season.
"I still have four tournaments left until the end of the season and I would love to finish 2013 strongly" - Rory McIlroy
"But I think as I showed out there, I'm hitting the ball well. Tee to green, the game was very solid, and if I can just get the putter going a little bit more and get a few more putts to drop, then in these last four tournaments, I can hope to contend and maybe pick up a win or two."
McIlroy will contest the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai this week and the Turkish Airlines Open, but needs to climb from 62nd on the Race to Dubai into the top 60 to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship next month.
Both men wore microphones as they played, but it appeared Woods forgot that his every word was being made public as he was heard swearing on several occasions.
Twice he swore when describing a cold he has been suffering from for the last week, while television commentators were forced to apologise when further colourful language was uttered by the 14-times major winner on the 17th hole.