(Eds: With AP Photos.) By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The next major is eight months away. The next showdown is nine days away.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are assured of being paired together next week at The Barclays for the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs. And while these playoff events are more about making money than making history, this could become meaningful down the road.
Woods has never faced a rival with this kind of potential.
He has never won at least three times in a year without being looked upon as the undisputed best player in golf.
For the first time in his quest to break Jack Nicklaus' record in the majors, the biggest challenge for Woods is no longer overcoming a failed marriage, four knee surgeries, a tender Achilles tendon or even the fact that he's simply getting older.
It's another player.
McIlroy and Woods have played in the same tournament 12 times this year. McIlroy has finished ahead of Woods seven times, including wins at the Honda Classic and th...