Golf rivalries tee off excitement for casual observers

Feb. 11, 2013

Jonathan Toman
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For most people, golf is the epitome of boredom. To think that someone took the time to write an article about it is almost nonsense.

But, as in many sports, golf enjoys added enthusiasm when there is a rivalry within the game. And for golf to be successful in 2013 and beyond, there must be a rivalry between some of the game’s best players.

In golf history (could I have put any two more boring words together in the same sentence?), the sport has always enjoyed added excitement when two or more players challenge each other to be the best.

The epic battles between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, and Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen created some of the best moments in the history of the sport.

There are many good players in golf right now that can carry on that legacy, but there are three I would like to highlight: Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

These three carry almost all the star power the sport has to offer at the moment. Entering the 2013 season, McIlroy was the No. 1 ranked player in the world with Woods at No. 2.

On Jan. 28, Woods made an opening salvo in the 2013 PGA tour season, with a four-stroke win at the Farmers Insurance Open in California.

A week later on Feb. 3, Mickelson made a statement of his own with a win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open by, you guessed it, four strokes.

I cannot wait to see what happens when the three of them are on the course at the same time, with all of them at the top of their game.

Such a possibility lends enthusiasm to the sport and is necessary for golf to continue to be something people will watch.

Something about the sport that has always fascinated me: More than not, it is you against yourself, and no one else can control what you do.

In the immortal words of American golfer Bobby Jones, “Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course – the distance between your ears.”

Self-reliance is just one of the many unique qualities that the sport of golf possesses.

Still, the game is better with a rivalry. In fact, it must have a rivalry. With Woods not as dominant in recent years, the casual golf observer needs motivation to watch.

These three have the capability to provide. I just hope they deliver.