Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods were in the zone on Thursday afternoon. Putts were dropping, drives were finding the fairway with regularity, and irons were flying true. Neither admitted it after the round, but they were in their own little bubble for much of the day, smiling, laughing and trying to one-up each other on every hole.
If anything, the round resembled a weekend walk in the park more than the first round of a FedExCup event with $10 million on the line. It was like neither wanted to admit that they were playing for keeps at the BMW Championship.
However, that all changed on Friday morning when McIlroy and Woods took the course for the second round. Sure, golf's past and present smiles and shared the occasional laugh as they strolled down the fairway, but for the most part, both were trying to keep their brilliant opening-rounds from being a mere afterthought.
For much of the round, Woods and McIlroy had to grind for pars and the occasional birdie -- which was a far cry from the opening round where red numbers seemed to be as plentiful as the corn fields in Indiana.
Woods couldn't find a fairway -- he's currently T-58 in driving accuracy for the week -- and McIlroy had trouble finding the green. It was like both players wanted to see if they could score on a soggy Crooked Stick with their B-minus or C-plus game, after ripping the Pete Dye layout to shreds with what was as close to their A-game as we've seen all year.
That obviously wasn't the plan at the start of the round, but Woods and McIlroy made do with what they had. Woods' round looked incredibly sloppy at times, but he somehow managed to card a bogey-free 67 to get within one of 36-hole leader Vijay Singh at 12-under.
And McIlroy? While he didn't have nearly as clean a round as Woods -- his included six birdies, four bogeys and an eagle -- yet he somehow managed to end up in the same position, tied for second at 12-under following a 4-under 68.
The good news is McIlroy and Woods seem to be on a collision for an epic weekend battle at the BMW Championship -- at least if you look at the way they've played thus far. The sport has been dying for something, anything, resembling a rivalry over the last few years, so the thought of having the two biggest names at the top of the leaderboard at a FedExCup event has to get you excited about the playoffs. That's the good news.
The bad news? We'll have to wait at least one more day to see Woods and McIlroy together on the weekend where it actually counts. Despite finishing at 12-under, PGA Tour officials decided to pair players in groups of three (they usually go to twosomes on the weekend) due to the threat of bad weather on Saturday.
That means Tiger and Rory will be in different groups on Saturday. It's a major buzzkill, I know. But let's be honest, if we had to pick between having Rory and Tiger playing in the last two groups on Saturday or playing together in the first group out ... well, you probably know the answer to that question.
If they maintain their solid play on Saturday, who knows, maybe we'll see them go head-to-head with a trophy on the line. It's a dream scenario for golf fans. All we need is Rory and Tiger to go low on Saturday and set up what would surely be the most highly anticipated final round of the 2012 season. No pressure, guys.