The AT&T National and Irish Open share center stage this week. The AT&T event is hosted by Tiger Woods and contested at Congressional. The Irish Open is being played at Royal Portrush and features Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke. Which event are you more excited to watch?
By JAY COFFIN
Difficult to pass up a Tiger Woods event, but the Irish Open has piqued my interest. I’ll change my tune Sunday if Woods is in contention, but for the sake of this argument, I’ll pretend he won’t be.
This Irish Open is extremely special because it’ll be played at storied Royal Portrush, a track I played last summer and one that hopes to land a British Open in the near future. This is, by all accounts, a British Open warmup. If Portrush holds up well this week, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews will pay closer attention.
I’m eager to see what it looks like on TV and can’t wait to see how it plays. What will the weather be like? How will players battle the elements? Will an Irishman be in contention?
There certainly will be plenty of Irishmen in the field. Major champions Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland all are playing. Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington will be there, too. As will Keegan Bradley, last year’s PGA champion.
An extra set of eyes will be on McIlroy, who missed the cut at the U.S. Open two weeks ago. He’s missed four cuts in his last five events, but also has T-2 and T-7 finishes in his last six starts.
Which Rory will show? All part of the reason why the Irish Open is the more intriguing watch this week.
The Irish Open will air on Golf Channel (all times ET): 9AM-1PM Thursday, 9AM-11:30AM Friday, 8:30AM-12:30PM Saturday and Sunday.
By REX HOGGARD
The return of championship golf to Royal Portrush, not to mention the return of native sons Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, to the Irish Open is compelling, but it’s Tiger Woods’ return to Congressional for the AT&T National that promises to be the week’s most entertaining bout.
Woods won the AT&T in 2009, the last year it was played at Congressional before a two-year hiatus to Philadelphia, in textbook fashion, forging a one-stroke, 54-hole lead before closing with an effortless 67.
But that seems like a lifetime ago. Woods missed last year’s U.S. Open at Congressional with an injury and didn’t exactly look textbook at this year’s U.S. Open, where he held a share of the lead through two rounds but struggled to a Saturday 75 and was never part of the Sunday conversation.
But then that’s why the AT&T is such a compelling read. This Tiger doesn’t keep time with the field on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as a prelude to a furious haymaker on Sunday. This guy could win by five – like he did earlier this year at Bay Hill – or finish tied for 40th, like he did at the Masters and The Players.
It’s called drama, and it’s why the AT&T will be must-see TV.
The AT&T National will air on Golf Channel (all times ET): 3-6PM Thursday and Friday, 1-2:30PM Saturday and Sunday.