Tiger vs. Phil? Rickie vs. Rory? Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer up the rivalry they would most like to see emerge in 2011.
By REX HOGGARD
Tiger v. Phil, Yin v. Yang, Godzilla v. Rodan. Some rivalries transcend all other competition and, outside of that even-year Transatlantic exhibition, there is no better mano a mano action than Woods-Mickelson.
By RANDALL MELL
It helps that one’s American and the other is European with the PGA Tour and European Tour growing as rivals.
We saw these two square off somewhat controversially last year in PGA Tour Rookie-of-the-Year voting, with Fowler winning the honor as McIlroy supporters cried foul. Consider the seed planted.
We saw brilliant possibilities from both last season. We saw McIlroy shoot that final-round 62 to win at Quail Hollow, and we saw Fowler close with four consecutive birdies under enormous Ryder Cup pressure to demoralize Edoardo Molinari in their halved singles match.
Fowler, 22, has something you can’t develop. He’s got charisma to go with that Lanny Wadkins’ swing. He’s got the hair and the clothes and the smile. Fowler may look hip, but as a player, he’s a throwback with that shot-shaping skill. McIlroy, 21, also has that intangible charm working for him. He’s got the signature wild hair, the Irish brogue and supreme self confidence to go with his terrific swing.
If these guys keep developing and end up having their own “Duel in the Sun” at the British Open, or wherever, it’s a wonderful boost for golf. It fuels the game's promising new youth movement.