PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rory McIlroy vs. Rickie Fowler.
Do they have a future as rivals?
Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo and Brandel Chamblee were asked to compare and contrast the two Tuesday during an NBC/Golf Channel media conference call for The Players Championship.
Here are some highlights:
Miller: “The thing I like about Rickie is he's so in control emotionally. When he misses a putt, you can't even hardly tell he missed it by watching his expression or body language. He seems to be a good pressure putter. So that's going to bode well. Not in love with his sort of Sergio García-type lag swing, but he's a natural player, and he's a heck of a good striker.
“I'm impressed by Rory, of course, because he's the real deal. Beautiful tempo, huge distance now. He has gotten more distance the last couple of years. It's just whether or not he's that driven, like a Gary Player, if he has that kind of Tom Kite love for the game. I think he really likes the game, but I just don't know if he's crazy about it. Time will show that. But he does have that one major, of course, which was fantastic.
“So I would lean on Rory as being the guy in the future, if he has the drive. I get the sense that the Irish players, when they win, like Darren Clarke, [Graeme] McDowell, whatever, when they win the majors, it's party time a little bit.”
Faldo: “I think you're going to see that a lot now that Rickie has broken the ice. He’s a feel player. He has been working hard on getting in position and learning with that experience, and then he put it all together. I think Quail Hollow really helped him. You have to concentrate on that golf course to pull off victory.
“Those two guys have a good mutual respect for each other, but they are young, and they recognize that it's an era that they're in that opens up opportunities. These guys are going to start looking at each other and think, `Wow, who is going to start dividing up all the majors? Who is going to start taking them all?’”
Chamblee: “I think it's great to watch these guys. They are both sort of a strong contrast to what's going on in the world of golf today, because both of them play pretty quickly. Both of them have a sense where they are trying to play shots, and they are not caught up in swing mechanics.
“I think in trying to look 20 years down the road, Rory McIlroy has a better swing, technically. He has got better rhythm. He has already shown an ability to win a major championship by a wide margin.
“I think when you start to look at Rickie Fowler, there's no doubt that he's enormously talented, but I look at him more along the lines of a Hubert Green or a Lanny Watkins. He has got a very fast tempo to his golf swing. He's pretty narrow, but with a ton of lag on the way down, and it's very explosive. I think he's going to be successful, and he's going to be great for golf, but in the long haul.
“When you talk about Rory McIlroy, you hear one person's name pop up more than any other and that's Sam Snead. No player has won more golf tournaments in the world of golf than Sam Snead, in men's golf. I think Rory is going to be around a long, long time, and he's going to be really fun to watch.”