McIlroy may be Woods' one true rival

By Rex HoggardOctober 24, 2012, 6:07 pm

Seems the only thing Greg Norman is guilty of is hyperbole, or a misplaced dictionary. Either way, the Shark missed the mark when he said earlier this year that Tiger Woods is intimidated by Rory McIlroy. He must have meant motivated.

What else would explain the 36-year-old’s newfound clarity of competitive thought? December’s World Challenge will be Woods’ 24th global event, the most he has played since 2005, and last week he didn’t sound like a man edging gracefully for the good life.

“It was nice to be able to be healthy enough to where I have the opportunity to play as much or as little as I want, it wasn't something I was forced to sit on the sidelines, forced to rehab and try and get myself back into a position where I can compete,” he said. “I was able to compete and play as many tournaments as I wanted to. So that was a positive.”

No, the Ulsterman didn’t put that spring back in Woods’ step – that honor belongs to multiple knee surgeries and a new swing designed, at least partially, to keep him off the DL – but there is no mistaking what McIlroy’s meteoric rise has meant to the former world No. 1.

We’ve been here before. False rivals have come and gone and from Lefty to El Nino they have all fallen short to varying degrees of the ultimate billing. But Tiger vs. Rory moved beyond budding this year at the Honda Classic, when the youngster held off Woods who closed with a 62, and raced passed potential when McIlroy lapped the field at Kiawah Island in August for his second major walk-off.

Even Woods, who has had little interest in media hype throughout his career, acknowledged there is something afoot when asked on Wednesday at the CIMB Classic in Asia about the rivalry.

“For a number of years I've been the youngest one. Throughout my years it's been Phil (Mickelson), Vijay (Singh), Ernie (Els), Duval (Duval), Paddy (Harrington),” Woods said. “I was the youngest of all of those parties. Rory is younger, so this is the next generation of guys. It's neat to be part of that generational change.”

McIlroy is quick to point out the last dozen majors are normally the hardest, showing deference to Woods’ 14 grand slam tilts and Hall of Fame resume, but the golf universe, upended since 2009 by Woods’ pedestrian play and parity, has unmistakably been narrowed to two names.

The only thing, to be sure the key thing, missing is the classic Sunday showdown at a major. Well, that and anything close to animosity. The duo will play for show on Monday at the “Duel at Jinsha Lake,” which is missing that “Rumble in the Jungle” cachet but the subtext remains unchanged.

Many of sport’s best rivalries have been contrived. Muhammad Ali no more hated Joe Frazier than Magic Johnson loathed Larry Bird, but all sides understood the importance of perception.

The perfect combination of mutual petulance and competitive parity is rare, so if Woods and McIlroy sidestep acrimony for the congenial high road then so be it. We’ll take our rivalries with or without a side of order of mutual distaste, although there are no shortage of pundits who suggest the relationship is not what it seems.

Some conspiracy theorist have suggested Woods’ friendship with McIlroy is little more than a business ploy to woo his young rival over to Nike Golf, which, according to numerous reports, is trying to sign the Ulsterman to a 10-year endorsement deal. Perhaps, but you never heard Woods clamoring to fit Mickelson with a “Swoosh.”

Maybe a jump to Nike for McIlroy would be an economic boon for Woods, but you know what else would help the bottom line? Winning majors, and right now the biggest threat to Woods reaching Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 grand slams is a healthy, happy McIlroy.

“We're the top two players in the world right now, and we get to compete against one another. To us it's fun,” Woods said last week. “We have fun out there and we both like to compete. For us to go out there and compete against one another, we're ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the world, respectively. It's a lot of fun to be able to have those opportunities.”

Maybe there is an ulterior motive for Woods’ budding friendship with McIlroy, but it has nothing to do with endorsement deals or cleverly crafted ad campaigns. In McIlroy Woods sees a kindred spirit, a reason to improve or be passed and, if the cosmic tumblers cooperate, a distant thought of Sunday duels at Augusta National and beyond.

For Norman it was an honest mistake, the fine line between intimidated and motivated is often lost in the psychological grey area. But the truth is Red Shirt outplayed his young rival in six of the eight times they were paired together this season.

It’s not a fear of McIlroy that now seems to embolden Woods, it’s the future possibility that this could be the rivalry that we’ve all been waiting for.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.