Is there a new rivalry in golf? Rory McIlroy held off a charge from a rejuvenated Tiger Woods last weekend, and we might see this battle play out again and again. But time may be limited.
If only Rory McIlroy had been born 10 years earlier, or Tiger Woods a decade later.
What a rivalry they could’ve had, maybe up there with Jack and Arnie, Ali and Frazier, Federer and Nadal, Magic and Bird.
But Woods is 36 and up against the clock as he searches for the champion he once was; McIlroy is 14 years his junior, scratching the surface of his vast potential, safe in the knowledge that he has the next 20 years to get it right.
Their rivalry, then, may not have longevity on its side, but if Sunday’s unforgettable finish to the Honda Classic is any indication, it still may provide days that fathers will tell their sons about.
It wasn’t surprising that McIlroy — on a windy Sunday afternoon in South Florida — became the youngest No. 1 since Woods reached the top of the world rankings as a 21-year-old in 1997.
Given his prodigious talent, it was always going to be his fate.
But it was the way the curly-haired kid from Holywood — outside of Belfast — achieved his dream that was the stuff of Hollywood.
Tiger has dominated for so long, and his presence in a tournament completely altered the betting odds. Sure, you’ll check your sportsbook reviews and information about the course, but Tiger’s presence altered everything. Now with McIlroy we might have another game-changer on our hands.
It will be interesting to see if this is real or whether it’s a fluke. Tiger has been erratic, but if his game is coming back, he and McIlroy can at least start a great rivalry. How long it lasts is another story.