The Barklay’s (@ Bethpage Black) has Rory & Tiger in the same grouping in Rounds 1 & 2.
Two eras of golf will be face to face on the course for the next two days at the most fabled public course in America. Bethpage Black, host of two U.S. Opens, the only truly public course to ever host a major championship, is the site of the Barlay’s, the opening event of the PGA Fed Ex Cup Championship, four tournaments that will whittle this weekend’s field of the top 125 players, based on points accumulated throughout the season, to the 30 players who will play for the Cup in the final event, and the ten million dollar bonus that comes with it. The next four tournaments may provide a watershed in the history of golf and it all starts at 8:16 this morning when Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy step up to the tenth tee and take their whacks at a course that has brought some of the biggest names in the game to their knees. The moment belongs to Rory, coming off a dominating win in the PGA Championship, his second major in two years, the only two time winner in the last seventeen majors. The spotlight he’s stepped into, and the era he’s trying to replace with his own, belongs to Tiger, who’s 36 years old and hasn’t won a major in four years. In Tiger’s mind, if he’s going to reclaim his status the reclamation project will have to begin now, head to head with the future of golf. “I see it as absolutely a good year”, Tiger responded yesterday, when asked at his pre tournament press conference if he considered a win that includes three PGA Tour wins but no major championship a good year, “But I think winning a major championship puts it into a ‘great year’ category.” Tiger has always played to different standards than other golfers. Success in a tournament isn’t guaged by contending, only by winning, career success is measured only in major championships. “They’re just that much bigger”, he said of the majors. The two players share the favorite’s role at Bethpage Black, at 7/1, distanced from the field by a monster tee shot, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Luke Donald all at 20/1. But the moment does belong to McIlroy. He’s ranked number one in the world. Tiger is ranked at number three, but he’s climbed an Everest sized mountain after having fallen out of the top 50 in the wake of his well chronicled personal problems while going winless on Tour for two and a half years. Still, the majors remain elusive and his pursuit of Nicklaus’ record won’t resume until he finally breaks the drought. A Fed Ex Cup Championship would automatically vault him into the favorite’s role for next season’s first major, the Masters. If Rory claims the Cup the new era will be underway. Hogan to Snead to Palmer to Nicklaus to Tiger. Is Rory McIlroy ready to write the next chapter in the annals of golf? This may be the weekend we find out, when two eras clash head on on a public golf course on Long Island. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.