Best rivalry for new year: Rory vs. Tiger?

By Randall MellDecember 27, 2011, 1:00 pm

Every sport wants and needs rivalries - and golf is no different. For the upcoming 2012 season, who/what would make for the best, most interesting rivalries? senior writers Jason Sobel, Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard weigh in with their thoughts.


Sure, there’s already a rivalry, but if there’s one I’d like to see develop more during the 2012 season, it’s the United States versus Europe.

Hey, it’s a Ryder Cup year and this rivalry has enjoyed all the intrigue of the hammer-and-nail variety over the past decade. Since 2002, Europe has defeated the U.S. in the biennial competition four out of five times and it’s rarely been close.

A greater rivalry can be forged by bulletin board material from each side, but with class acts Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love III in the role of captains, don’t expect much trash talk in the weeks and months leading up to the festivities at Medinah.

Instead, the rivalry will have to blossom on the course. The best way for this to happen? Head-to-head battles in each of the major championships and other big events.

Think about it: Let’s take Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia going one-on-one in the final pairing at Augusta National; Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood at the U.S. Open; Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy at the Open Championship; and Dustin Johnson and Martin Kaymer at the PGA Championship.

Even just a few of those matchups on Sunday afternoons will lead to greater anticipation for the Ryder Cup. In an individual sport, it’s always difficult for rivalries to develop. In a team event, the rivalry is already there. Now let’s see it bloom.


More so than any other sport, golf eschews instant analysis and at no time is that truth more evident than when assessing rivalries.

As a rule, rivalries are developed over decades, not a few decent weeks, and unless Phil Mickelson makes an unexpected run at the “Lefty Slam,” the rivalry most worth watching in 2012 would be the much anticipated clash of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

The Ulsterman has done his part, winning this past year’s U.S. Open by a full length and providing more than a dollop of bulletin board material. Prior to last year’s Ryder Cup, McIlroy said of a possible match with Woods, “Unless his game rapidly improves in the next month or so, I think anyone in the European team would fancy his chances against him.”

Woods’ game has improved and with it the fortunes of a possible Woods-McIlroy rivalry, but we’ve been here before. There was a time when Sergio Garcia was considered Woods’ greatest potential rival, and yet the Spaniard spent much of last season trying to find himself following a “Dear El Nino” letter and ended 2010 78th in the World Golf Ranking.

For all of McIlroy’s potential, a true rivalry is born from the perfect storm of mutually sustained performance, and since he emerged in 2010 only half the dance card has delivered. The rest is up to Woods, and the hands of history.


Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger Woods.

You can almost see the letters in that sentence straining to clash.

McIlroy vs. Woods holds the most potential as a rivalry to rivet us in 2012.

If McIlroy builds on the momentum he created this year, if Woods ratchets up a comeback with fuel from his late-season victory, golf could be in for an unforgettable year.

It’s not exactly Jack Nicklaus vs. Arnold Palmer, but like that rivalry, there’s a generational clash in the formula that adds to the intrigue.

A classic rivalry requires more than epic showdowns. It requires a little spice in the interaction, something that makes the clash feel personal. We’ve got a little of that in McIlroy and Woods. We’ve got McIlroy as the face and voice of this new generation, as the player who captured the bravado of the new breed professing Europe’s lack of fear of Woods before the last Ryder Cup. We’ve got the reports in how that annoyed Woods.

While there may be mutual respect between the two, there’s also an edge. You know, in a showdown, they’d want to thrash each other.

McIlroy vs. Woods could give us what we’ve been deprived of in the last decade and a half. It could give us our first honest-to-goodness rivalry since Nick Faldo used to battle Greg Norman on the game’s biggest stages. They could give us the struggle that will win a new legion of fans to the game.

Bradley, wife welcome baby boy, already rocking Patriots gear

By Grill Room TeamNovember 20, 2017, 6:40 pm

Keegan Bradley and his wife Jillian announced on social media that they welcomed a baby boy, Logan James Bradley, to the world last week.

The Bradleys both posted photos on Instagram over the weekend, introducing their healthy newborn baby, who was (not-surprisingly) already decked out in head-to-toe New England Patriots gear.

Bradley, 31, grew up in New England and is not shy about showing his support for the area's sports teams.

Logan James Bradley 11/13/17 He’s changed @jillian_bradley and my life forever. We couldn’t be happier #gopats #dab

A post shared by Keegan Bradley (@keeganbradley1) on

A big congratulations is in order for the new parents.

And all you other adorable kids of PGA Tour golfers, you've officially been put on notice. You've got some new competition.

Country music star Owen to play in event

By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 6:19 pm

Country music star and avid amateur golfer Jake Owen has accepted a sponsor invitation to play in the 2018 Nashville Golf Open on the Tour.

Owen, 36, has sold millions of albums while becoming one of the top male singers in the country genre. He has also been frequently spotted on the links, teeing it up last week alongside host Davis Love III in the RSM Classic pro-am and participating each of the last three years as the celebrity partner for Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Owen will now try his hand in competition against some of the game's rising stars at the May 24-27 event, held in his hometown and benefitting the charitable foundation of PGA Tour pro Brandt Snedeker.

"I am truly honored to have this opportunity to play golf with guys whose work ethic I admire so much, like my buddy Brandt Snedeker," Owen said in a release. "I know how hard everyone works to get to play in these ( Tour) tournaments. I'm really grateful, and I can't wait for this week in May 2018 to get here."

Owen will be following in the footsteps of NBA superstar Steph Curry, who played on a sponsor invite earlier this year at the's Ellie Mae Classic and, while missing the cut, largely exceeded expectations. Curry is currently listed as a 0.8 handicap, while Owen played at Pebble Beach in February as a 3 handicap.

Like Curry, Owen will play via an "unrestricted" sponsor invite and will retain his amateur status.

Jeremy Roenick uses golf clubs to catch rattlesnake

By Jason CrookNovember 20, 2017, 6:00 pm

Jeremy Roenick has never seemed to be afraid of much, whether it was another guy breaking his jaw on the hockey rink or an alligator interrupting his golf game.

The retired American hockey legend who currently works as an NBC Sports analyst was at it again over the weekend, coming across a rattlesnake in Arizona and just casually using a couple of golf clubs to catch it before grabbing it with his bare hands and showing it off for the camera.

The person recording can be heard calling Roenick "psycho" and "nuts" several times before the snake is thrown off the property.

That person is not wrong.

What's in the bag: RSM Classic winner Cook

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 20, 2017, 3:52 pm

PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook earned his first Tour title at the RSM Classic. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Ping G400 (8.5 degrees adjusted to 9.2), with Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661X shaft

Fairway wood: Ping G400 (13 degrees), with Fujikura Motore VC 7.0 shaft

Hybrids: Ping G400 (19, 22 degrees), with Matrix Altus Red X shafts

Irons: Ping S55 (5-PW), with KBS Tour S shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50, 56, 60) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne

Ball: Titleist Pro V1