As Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods face off in the TOUR Championship 2012, both need only a victory to secure their place as the winner of the FedEx Cup and the title of the best golfer for the current season.
However, that same statement holds true for fellow golfers Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker, who all need a victory this weekend to capture the cup, no matter what the rest of the field does.
They gave us a glimpse of their current rivalry in the first round of the Championship, and hopefully it turns out to be the storybook ending we've been waiting for with the battle these two have been waging for months in pursuit of professional golf's crowning jewel.
Of the golfers still in contention for a victory and a FedEx Cup championship, the two we most want to see are Tiger and Rory. They are the faces of professional golf, and they have a chance to be the new-age Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
Tiger still has a chance to break Nicklaus' all-time record of major championships. He has an even better shot to catch Sam Snead's record of 82 all-time PGA tour victories in the next two seasons.
Oh, and Rory McIlroy could come along and break them all. He's only 22 and already has two major championships. He's not Tiger Woods by any stretch, but he's the most exciting player on the tour right now, and he's facing off against the most covered golfer in the history of the game in Woods.
Woods and Mickelson used to be the marquee matchup that everyone wanted to see on Sunday. I can remember afternoons in the summer spent watching Phil and Tiger go shot for shot on the back nine.
It was the kind of golf you watched for hours. With Tiger's resurgence and talent still deep at the root of the tournaments he plays, it seems like McIlroy is poised to take the reins from Mickelson and turn their matchups into the ones that CBS focuses on each Sunday afternoon.
Tiger got the best of McIlroy after Round 1 was completed on Thursday. He finished the day with a share of the lead at four-under, while McIlroy finished at one-under, three strokes off the pace.
They won't be matched up in Round 2 and likely won't see each other in Round 3, either. But if this is the matchup that truly is one of the best in sports, I think the odds will place the two in the final round with a chance to win the tournament.
Heck, Mickelson might join that final pairing.
Tiger has been the face of golf for over a decade. Even when times were tough, we still heard about him each week. Now, with the emergence of a talented golfer and a new force for Tiger to tame, this matchup is one fans should hope for each week.
It's not quite there, but by the time these two battle in Ryder Cup play and over the course of the tour, it will shape up to be one of the best in pro sports.
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