Image courtesy of The New York Times
All right, we are finally here – golf’s biggest stage. 30 of the world’s elite players have finally made it to the Tour Championship of the FedEx Cup, but that’s not for another week (so stay tuned for something to be written about that later). This post is more about Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods – the two biggest stars in golf; the classic Old School meets New Generation matchup that every red-blooded American sports fan loves. We have seen a number of “torches” passed down over the years: Magic Johnson to Michael Jordan, Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, and many others. The point is that as American sports fans we are always starved for a rivalry that will stand the test of time, and that just might be what we have starting up in golf after a weekend that saw Rory McIlroy take home the BMW Championship trophy.
The Player of The Year award is down to a two horse race between McIlroy and fan favorite Tiger Woods. McIlroy’s latest victory marks his third in the last four weeks, and his fourth PGA tour win all year long. Some say that this essentially seals the Player of The Year award for young Rory, but let’s hold off on crowning him for right now and look at both cases for each player. Then I’ll let you decide for yourself who should be crowned 2012 Player of The Year.
Ok, first off let’s look at the proverbial ‘leader in the clubhouse’. He is 23 years old, Irish, boasts a picture perfect golf swing and a better than decent taste in women. However, since those things – besides the golf swing – really don’t count towards the voting of the award here are his numbers:
He has played in fifteen events this year, and of those fifteen tournaments he has won four times, been runner up twice, and finished in the top ten nine times. In addition, he is first in the FedEx Cup standings, and has won two of the three events so far. The kid is flat out on fire. Not enough? Ok, well if you’re more of a stat person, then listen to this: He is first in birdie average, scoring average, money earned and par breakers. Oh, and he’s ranked #1 in the world.
The guy just doesn’t make mistakes. The biggest thing that Tiger might have over Rory might have been that Rory had yet to really come from behind against elite competition, but he proved that he could do that this past weekend. Going into the final round at the BMW Championship, Rory had to beat out Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood, and Dustin Johnson.
If you were to give out this award a month ago, Tiger Woods would have been the unanimous choice here, but as of right now it looks like it’s going to be a tough finish for El Tigre. For the sake of argument however, here is what the season looks like for Tiger Woods:
Tiger has played in 18 events this year – many more than he usually plays – and has won three times, been runner up once, and finished in the top ten eight times. He currently stands second in the FedEx Cup rankings, as well as, the World Rankings.
The good news for the “Tiger faithful” is that although he is not back, he is right there. Besides the Masters, Tiger has held the lead at least once at each of the majors, and has two of his top tens at two of those majors. He is so close to going back to the Tiger of old, which is what is going to make this rivalry so good. Can you imagine how much growth the sport of golf would see if Rory McIlroy and Classic Tiger were to face off weekly?
Someone who has never paid attention to the sport of golf might just give Rory McIlroy the award right away after reading this, but hold off on that for about another week. Tiger Woods still has a chance.
If Tiger Woods, who is the only player on tour to win the FedEx Cup twice, can win next weekend at East Lake then that will be his fourth win of the year and would make things very interesting. If anyone can do it, it would have to be Tiger Woods.
Personally, I am an old school kind of guy when it comes to sports. I’m not one who likes change, and I firmly believe in respecting your elders in this life. Not that Rory McIlroy is disrespecting Tiger, but I just think Tiger has one more run left in him before passing the torch to Rory.
That is why my pick for Player of The Year is going to be Tiger Woods. I firmly believe that Tiger Woods will take advantage of this week off, see the kids, and then head to Atlanta fully prepared to get the one win he needs this year. Tiger has had almost as good of a playoffs as Rory with the exception of a couple of wins, and only needs one win in order to be the 2012 FedEx Cup champion and Player of The Year.