Even though the golf season officially began two weeks ago, the “real” golf season begins this weekend as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods begin their 2013 schedules. Where you ask? Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates where the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship takes place.
Why Abu Dhabi, not Hawaii, as their choice to tee off the season?
Well, first of all, both are getting paid just to show up. McIlroy is getting between $1 and $1.5 million and Tiger is getting between $1.7 and $2.7 million. Also, this is a weak field, so a good finish is probable, which will build confidence going forward.
How about the Rory-Tiger “rivalry”?
I put rivalry in quotation marks because some believe it is and some believe it isn’t. So, it’s up in the air. I mean, they haven’t been in the final pairing of a major, but they both competed throughout the FedEx playoffs, where the next great golf rivalry may have began. At the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second tournament in the FedEx Cup playoffs, McIlroy finished first, while Tiger finished third. The next week at the BMW Championship, Rory again took home the victory, but Tiger didn’t finish too far behind in fourth. In the final event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the Tour Championship, both finished in the top ten, Tiger in eighth and Rory in tenth. These three tournaments built momentum, not only in golf as a whole, but also in the rivalry that was previously nonexistent of Rory v. Tiger.
Photo Credit: Warren Little
How much of a rivalry is this?
Not much, because a rivalry involves two teams or people who hate, or strongly dislike, one another. The greatest rivalries, Red Sox-Yankees, Duke-North Carolina, Lakers-Celtics, all involve two teams that hate each other and don’t want one another to succeed. Rory and Tiger are friends, on and off the course. In addition, Nike now sponsors both players, so they must like each other or Nike will be in a predicament.
Also, as I said before, both must compete in the same major and possibly be in the final pairing together in the major. Then, it will be considered more of a rivalry than it is now. Now, it’s just the two best professional golfers in the world competing against one another.
So, as the HSBC Championship tees off this weekend, don’t think about the rivalry between Rory and Tiger. Instead, think about who is the best in the world right now.