When the 2012 BMW Championship begins, September 6th, at Crooked Stick Golf Club, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will be paired together in the first two rounds. These two professionals, the most dominant players in golf today, have previously met head-to-head six times in stroke play events. This is a brief review of how they have done.
2010 Chevron World Challenge: In the second round, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, a 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, with one career victory on the PGA Tour, played head to head against Tiger Woods, the winner of 71 Tour events, including 14 major championships. The young McIlroy posted a one-under par score of 70, while the veteran Woods finished with a five-under 66. McIlroy 0, Woods 1.
2012 Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Round 1:McIlroy, Woods, and then world #1 Luke Donald were paired together in the first two rounds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. In the opening round, on Thursday, January 26th, Rory got the tournament started with a strong five-under par 67, compared to a two-under score of 70 for Tiger. McIlroy 1, Woods 1.
2012 Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Round 2:In Friday's second round, McIlroy finished with an even-par round of 72, while Woods posted a three-under par 69. Tied after two rounds, they were destined to go head-to-head once more in the third round. McIlroy 1, Woods 2.
2012 Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Round 3:Rory McIlroy improved to a four-under 68 on Saturday, but could not match Tiger Woods, who shot a six-under 66. McIlroy 1, Woods 3.
2012 The Barclays, Round 1:The Barlays is the first event in the PGA Tour Playoffs. McIlroy and Woods were paired together for the first two rounds, August 23-24, at the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, in Farmingdale, New York. In Thursday's opening round, with five birdies and three bogeys, Rory posted a two-under 69. Tiger played a clean round, with four birdies and a single bogey, for a three-under 68. McIlroy 1, Woods 4.
2012 The Barclays, Round 2:On Friday, Rory started the second round with four bogeys in the first eight holes, before getting his game going a bit better, and finished with a two-over par score of 73. Tiger opened with back to back bogeys on #1 and #2, then went bogey-free the rest of the round, and posted a two-under par 69. McIlroy 1, Woods 5.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are the two most dominant players in golf today. The question of whether Rory will be the one to push Tiger off the top, or whether Woods will cast McIlroy aside as the latest pretender, is the most interesting and ongoing story of the 2012 season. As they move to yet another showdown, in the BMW Championship, I am impressed that they have each consistently played well when matched up head-to-head, with only one score posted over par.
Everybody wants to read a prediction. Mine is that Tiger Woods will again finish ahead of Rory McIlroy for the first 36 holes at Crooked Stick. Tiger has hit the ball very well lately and just needs to make a few putts. Also, while the past does not reliably predict the future, I cannot ignore Woods ten shot overall scoring advantage in the six head-to-head rounds noted above, 21-under par compared to 11-under for McIlroy.
Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.