Which rivalry would you most like to see emerge in 2011


Tiger vs. Phil? Rickie vs. Rory? Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer up the rivalry they would most like to see emerge in 2011.


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.

Nor does any other spectacle, other than possibly a major and the aforementioned exhibition, create as much buzz based purely on potential. What else could have drawn what seemed like greater Miami out to Doral in 2005 for the ultimate Sunday showdown? Woods clipped Mickelson by three strokes (66-69) and won by a shot that day.

Or the golf world’s gaze in 2009 when the duo teed off an hour before the leaders on a cool Augusta National Sunday? Lefty shot 67 and finished fifth, Woods posted 68 and was sixth, we were thrilled.

To pinch a well-worn adage, golf is at its best when Woods and Mickelson are at their best, and golf’s power pairing has a history of bringing out the best in each other. Not that it’s happened often enough.

In the 14 years since Woods joined the PGA Tour the two have only been paired together 23 times, and just eight times in the final round.

That changes in 2011 as Woods emerges from his post-Nov. 27 funk and Mickelson finds the form that abandoned him after last year’s Masters. And that’s good news for everyone.


Rickie Fowler vs. Rory McIlroy would match giant young talents with giant young personas.

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.