- Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will both skip this week's HSBC Champions event
- World No. 1 McIlroy and Woods talk exclusively with CNN in joint interview
- Woods has risen to No. 2 in the world rankings after slipping out of top 50 last year
- McIlroy tops the European Tour money list and won his second major title in 2012
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and 14-time major winner Tiger Woods are both accustomed to life on the road, but even the planet's two top-ranked golfers are not immune to the stresses and strains of the professional golf circuit.
In an exclusive joint interview with CNN, McIlroy and Tiger Woods explained how the grueling calendar has forced them both to skip this week's lucrative $7 million HSBC Champions tournament in China -- which starts just three days after their "Duel at Jinsha Lake" exhibition match.
McIlroy won that clash a day after finishing second at a tournament in Shanghai on Sunday, while Woods came straight from playing in Malaysia.
"For me, I'm fried," said the 36-year-old Woods. "I've played a lot of golf towards the end of the year ... I have one more tournament for the year and then I'm done until next year."
A resurgent Woods has recovered from a loss of form and fitness which dates back to November 2009 and the scandal that ended his marriage.
After dropping out of the top 50 of the world rankings in October 2011, Woods has bounced back in 2012 by winning three PGA Tour events and he is second on the U.S.-based circuit's money list behind its winner McIlroy.
Woods, who has spent a record 623 weeks at the top of the world rankings since turning pro in 1996, will finish the season by playing at the World Challenge event that he hosts later this month.
"I looked at it, I wanted a break," Woods explained. "I wanted a long extended break from competing and get back into training."
It has been a stellar year for McIlroy. He won the second major title of his career at August's PGA Championship, adding to his 2011 U.S. Open triumph, as well as helping Europe retain the Ryder Cup in Illinois thanks to a stunning comeback victory against a U.S. team including Woods.
But McIlroy, who also leads the European Tour's "Race to Dubai" money list, is feeling the effects of a long season and is wary of playing too much.
"Someone needs a week off somewhere," the 23-year-old said. "If I played HSBC, I would be playing five events in a row to finish the season.
"After such a busy summer, a Ryder Cup and everything which has gone on, there has got to be an event somewhere which has to be left out and this year unfortunately it was HSBC, for the reason that I wasn't a fan of the golf course and I needed a week off."
McIlroy is one half of sport's most high-profile love match with Danish tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki. But despite having a sporting girlfriend -- the couple have been dubbed "Wozzilroy" -- McIlroy admitted life on the tour can get lonely.
"You want to have guys you can go out for dinner with and have a laugh with in the locker room," he added. "You're out there for 25 weeks a year, so you might as well make it fun."
The growing rivalry between McIlroy and Woods is proving to be a big drawcard for golf, as witnessed by the chaotically enthusiastic scenes in Monday's one-off clash between the pair.
The confident McIlroy has not been shy in pointing out Woods' fall from his previous apparent invincibility, and the American compared their relationship to that of previous adversaries Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
"I talked to Jack about it and Jack and Arnie didn't like each other at the very get go," Woods said.
"They just didn't see eye-to-eye. But now they are best of friends, so that does happen -- mutual respect, or mutual respect over time and getting to know someone."
One Ryder Cup player who will be lining up at Mission Hills in Shenzen for Thursday's opening round is Woods' U.S. teammate and great rival Phil Mickelson.
The veteran formed a formidable partnership with Ryder Cup rookie Keegan Bradley as the Americans built up a 10-6 lead over Europe heading into the final day at the Medinah Country Club.
But Europe, captained by Jose Maria Olazabal, launched a stirring comeback to win 8½ points on the final day and retain the trophy.
Four-time major winner Mickelson admits bouncing back from the defeat has been one of the toughest tests of his career, but he is ready to roar into action in China.
"I think the first two weeks following the Ryder Cup was a really tough low, one of the biggest lows of my career," the 42-year-old told the European Tour's website.
"It was a very emotional time because we really thought we were going to win. We expected to win; we were playing well and we thought that we were going to do it on Sunday.
"I think that the disappointment will last a lot longer than a month. I feel that over the next two years, we'll still have the same disappointment from not winning this year's Ryder Cup."
Mickelson has won this event on two previous occasions when it was held in Shanghai, and he is confident of more success at its new home.
"I enjoyed our first time in Shanghai, but I think this golf course is wonderful, too," he said.
"The fact that the golf tournament is moving is nothing different than what we have amongst all of the big major championships in golf. This is a great site with a great golf course to host it.
"I played the course for the first time this morning; Keegan and I played a practice round and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was fun to play. (There is a) great mixture of holes and challenges, the greens are very fair and I think it's going to be a fun course."