Tiger Woods TOUR Championship 2012: Why Rivalry with McIlroy Is Good for PGA

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Tiger Woods (R) and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shakes hands on the 18th green during the first round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club on September 20, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Rivalries are natural in sports, given the stiff competition and what's at stake, and there's a rivalry slowly brewing in the PGA between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

However, this is a different type of rivalry.

We're not talking about an unfriendly relationship, like Phil and Tiger, but rather an affable one between the veteran and the rookie.


The Story

The conversation of a rivalry between the two superstar golfers was struck up when Greg Norman told reporters he believed Tiger Woods was intimidated by the young McIlroy, according to ESPN:

What I'm seeing is that Tiger's really intimidated by Rory. When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never. But I think he knows his time's up and that's normal; these things tend to go in 15-year cycles.

Woods was quick to dismiss Norman's comments and was backed up by McIlroy, as reported by USA Today's Steve DiMeglio:

(Woods) has got a new nickname for me, actually. He calls me the 'Intimidator.' (But) how can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy's got 75 whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 majors. I mean, he's been the biggest thing ever in our sport...I don't know where (Norman) got that from, but it's not true.

Since the comments were made, Woods has elevated his play, and he's tied for the lead heading into a 2:05 p.m. ET tee time.


What It Means For PGA

The PGA was dominated by Woods from 1996 to 2009, but has since seen a handful of players win different events following Woods' scandal in November 2009.

With McIlroy on the rise, this friendly rivalry is exactly what golf needs to draw in viewers.

The Mickelson-Woods rivalry has become irrelevant since Tiger's scandal. Woods has simply been working his way back, while Mickelson has struggled to make cuts and steal the spotlight while Woods was down.

The "rivalry" between Woods and McIlroy is a sign of mutual respect between two excellent golfers.

These two guys are incredible competitors, and while they may be good friends, they're not going to let friendship get in the way of competition.

When Woods and McIlroy are playing in the same tournament—or even better, paired together—fans are treated to some of the best golf seen in years.

And off the greens, it's all friendly, according to DiMeglio's piece.

He writes that Woods and McIlroy have a great relationship both on and off the course, often joking about Woods' age and McIlroy's height as well as often seeing each other at the gym.

However, it's the competition between the two that fans want to see, and if there's any question as to whether Tiger still has it, take it from his counterpart. McIlroy told DiMeglio: "Tiger is going to win again and win a lot. And he's going to win majors again. I don't see him going away."

In the end, this isn't a rivalry, but a mutual respect between golf's two biggest stars, and the PGA is benefiting the most.


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