Even though each has earned a victory in 2012, it has been a strange year for both. Woods had the worst Masters performance of his career the last time he was on the golf course. Meanwhile, McIlroy has played a very light schedule throughout the spring. Seeing that each has won this tournament in the past, which golfer has a better chance to earn his second win of the year? In my opinion, McIlroy looks to be in better shape.
This will be just the fifth PGA start for McIlroy in 2012, and only the second since early March. Despite the limited appearances, he has done quite well. McIlroy has three finishes in the top 3, including a win at the Honda Classic. He flamed out over the final two rounds at the Masters, but McIlroy has been known to rebound in the past. Remember what he did after blowing a lead at Augusta in 2011? I would be surprised if he doesn't contend at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2012.
The case for Woods is a little more uncertain. He has more starts than McIlroy but has only finished in the top 10 twice. He tied for second at the Honda Classic and won the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He finished in a tie for 40th at the Masters, the same position in which McIlroy finished. However, Tiger still seems to have the same problems that have plagued him over the last couple of years. He still misses big putts and he still loses his cool on the golf course. In other words, I don't see anything different about Tiger's game that leads me to believe he is ready to dominate again.
If either golfer finishes on top, we shouldn't be shocked. After all, they are both incredibly talented. However, McIlroy looks like he is ascending while Tiger is descending. He seems to have a clear indication of his goals for the summer while Tiger still looks like a golfer that can't accept his current status in the game.
For that reason, I give McIlroy the slight edge at Quail Hollow. I would love to see both golfers do well, but I have much more confidence in the young star from Northern Ireland.* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played the game since high school.