by Jeff Skinner
While the players made Thursday at The BMW Championship a true birdie fest the party continued afterwards during the players interviews. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy each spoke highly of one another’s game and their relationship. There hasn’t been a love fest like this on grass since 1969 and Woodstock (pun intended.) Tiger and Rory traded birdies on the course and glowing remarks towards each other during their interviews.
“It’s fun to play with him, and he’s just an amazing talent,” Woods beamed about his partner. “You watch him swing the club and watch him putt and play, he doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. You can see that, in the next decade or so, as he really matures and understands some of the nuances of the game, he’s only going to get better, and that’s kind of fun to see.” He goes on “It’s a lot of fun. This is the next generation of guys coming out. He hits it great, putts it great, and on top of that he’s just a really nice kid.”
McIlroy was just as complimentary about playing with his childhood hero. “I’ve always enjoyed playing with Tiger, and every time we’re paired up, we seem to have a good time. You’re watching a guy your whole life, you’re growing up watching him do all these unbelievable things on TV, and then you’re stuck in there with him. Yeah, Chevron was the first time I got to play with him, and I was a little nervous. But the more I’ve played with him, obviously the more comfortable I’ve been. I think that’s showed the last few weeks.”
For years, during Tiger’s reign there has never been a single player that poses more of a threat to his greatness than McIlroy. Mickelson, Els and Singh were fortunate enough to grab a few majors with Tiger playing his best but Woods was always the dominate golfer of his time.
Maybe Tiger has mellowed after all he has been through or maybe he just realizes that a young talent like McIlroy is bound to have his day. Or maybe he just likes “the kid” as he calls him.
Whatever the reason Tiger has taken to Rory, I will say that it is good for golf. This is the rivalry in golf right now. And seeing the two of them respect their games and each other is reminiscent of Nicklaus/Palmer and Nicklaus /Watson and Nicklaus/ Trevino and well, Nicklaus and anyone.
McIlroy and Woods are the two most popular golfers on the planet and having the two of them playing well and playing together is very good for the game.
While they are two different personalities with Rory more relaxed and fun-loving and Tiger more focused and reserved, their skills on the golf course will have them going at each other for a long time.
Golf’s greatest times are highlighted by great players, great major winners trading blows and championships with one another. Tiger and Rory can certainly give us all that for years to come.