By Larry GLicken

Written By, Clifford

Santa Monica

Greg Norman had an interesting take this morning on the so-called rivalry budding between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. He feels, at this point, that Tiger is intimidated by Rory—a contention a bit strong, but not entirely baseless, in my humble opinion.  Ever since 2010 when attempts at resurrecting his game began in earnest, Tiger would begin his tournaments driving and putting pretty well on Thursdays and Fridays. But then when Saturday rolled around he promptly morphed into this impostor who couldn’t hit the ball straight with his driver or any other club to save his life. But then, alarmingly, even if he hit beautiful approach shots which would have culminated in birdies for the Tiger of old, he’d blow putts that even ordinary players seemed to have no trouble with. Or he’d shank shots from the fairway to the green with his irons leaving himself with birdie “prayers” instead of legitimate birdie chances. Then after the round was over he’d act as if his weekend blunders were just part of the process which would eventually propel him back to the top perch of a totem pole that he once occupied all by himself

 

This sounds delusional, to put it mildly—and dumb, to be blunt about it. And now times have changed.  Specifically, Rory has pulled it together by relaxing and allowing his immense talent to do its work and the result is that he’s now the odds-on favorite to win many of the tournaments we used to assume Tiger would. It hurts me to say this but I think Greg Norman might be right. Eldrick’s uncharacteristic chumminess with Rory, for instance—a clear rival—might be a tacit If you can’t beat’em, join’em reflex that he’s never displayed previously—certainly not towards David Duval or Phil Mickelson or Vijay or Goosen in bygone years..

 

Tiger–while he will continue to win and may even bag another major or two (after all, Ernie just did it at age 42 and Jack did it at 46)– is now the world’s second best golfer and figures to remain so as long as Rory is around. Then Keegan Bradley will learn how to win and push Tiger further down the totem pole–if Adam Scott doesn’t do so first–and so on. To me, Tiger plays like a great hitter in an extended batting slump. He LOOKS like he’s pressing and no one can play golf effectively that way–not even the man who used to be the best and most gifted player we’ve ever seenI’d love to be wrong on this one, but I’m not sure I am…

 

Filed under: PGA Tour Golf

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