Tiger-McIlroy rivalry heating up

Tiger Woods reacts after sinking a putt to save par on the third hole during the final round of the...

Tiger Woods reacts after sinking a putt to save par on the third hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, August 12, 2012. (Reuters/CHRIS KEANE)

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:11 AM ET

Game on.

For those of you salivating over a Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy rivalry, it got real Wednesday, if only just for fun and if only just in news conference banter.

Up first in The Barclays media room, the young Northern Irishman pulled the Tiger's tail when speaking about next month's Ryder Cup.

"I'd love Tiger to go out first and kick his ass," McIlroy said, laughing.

Asked later if he was ready for such a butt-kicking, a surprised Woods responded: "At Medina? No."

It clearly was all in good fun and the two men do seem to like each other.

"I feel every time I've played with Tiger, he has sort of brought the best out of me. I really feel focused and obviously want to play well," McIlroy said.

Woods practically gushes over the youngster, with whom he is grouped for the first two rounds at The Barclays this week.

"It's going to be fun for both of us," Woods said. "I enjoy playing with Rory, and I hope he feels the same way about being in the same group as me. "I got a chance this year to play with him at Abu Dhabi in a practice round there, and we really hit it off. He's a great kid and it's great to be around him. What an amazing talent he really is."

But come on, golf could use a good old-fashioned rivalry. Enough of this parity pap.

And even though Tiger, 36, is playing nice with the 23-year-old, let's make no mistake -- Woods is not passing the torch just yet. While he's struggling to regain his major-winning form as the youngster is finding his, Woods surely would love nothing more than to reclaim his world No. 1 status, while McIlroy wants to show it belongs to him now.

The next couple of months could be a treat as there are several opportunities for the pair to duel.

First, there's the FedEx Cup playoffs, coming into which Woods is ranked No. 1 and McIlroy No. 3. Then there's the anticipated match at the Ryder Cup at the end of September. And there's a guaranteed head-to-head exhibition match in China at the end of October.

If McIlroy is to emerge as golf's next big thing, he's going to have to earn it by wresting it out of Tiger's claws.

There goes the neighbourhood

A New York homeowner got more than he bargained for when he asked Bubba Watson to take a photo with the house so they could prove to their friends that he had stayed there during The Barclays this week.

Watson, known for posting his antics on Twitter, decided to hit balls from the home's patio into nearby water. He teed up his 4-wood from a patio throw cushion and pulled the shot off before deciding he could up the ante.

Good ol' Bubba took the show inside, hitting a shot off a persian-type rug, through the patio doors and over the deck's railing.

"The owners ... asked if I'd take a picture in front of their house so they can tell their friends that I've stayed there and whatever," Watson explained in a news conference on Tuesday. "So I just said, 'Why don't we just hit balls off the deck into the lake? I can do it.' "

"Then I said, 'Let's move this indoors.' So I moved it indoors and hit off the rug. I had to fly it about -- the little railing is about five feet high, four feet high -- so hitting 4"'wood off the tight carpet was a little tight, but I just got it up and made it out of the house."

After his amazing shot out from the trees on No. 10 at Augusta this year, it's pretty clear Watson can pull off trick shots, and he knows it.

"No, I didn't break anything. I'm all right at golf sometimes."

See the shot here: twitvid.com/3LZRU

Wait for your fate

Martin Kaymer has decided to put his fate into the hands of others.

The former world No. 1, who has been slumping after trying to revamp his swing, is skipping the final event in which he can gain points toward an automatic berth on the European Ryder Cup side. The German is holding down the 10th spot, but by not playing in Scotland at the Johnnie Walker Championship, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, by virtue of a first- or second-place finish, can knock Kaymer out of the top 10.

If that were to occur, Kaymer's fate then would lie in the hands of Jose Maria Olazabal. Some have pegged Ian Poulter and Padraig Harrington as captain's picks and given the state of Kaymer's game, he might be passed over.

"Martin's been in a bit of a slump as we all know, but he is comfortable with where he is heading and he wants to be at the Ryder Cup. There's no doubt about that. He decided to stick to his schedule rather than play this week and he's spoken to (captain) Jose Maria (Olazabal) about it," Kaymer's manager, Johan Elliott, told Press Association Sport.

Kaymer should have let his game do the talking. This decision reeks of a lack of confidence.

On the schedule

Dates for the second annual Manulife Financial LPGA Classic have been announced.

The tournament, which proved a success in the Waterloo region with more than 66,000 spectators at the inaugural event in June, will be played July 11-14, 2013.

The second Canadian LPGA tournament will again be hosted by Grey Silo Golf Course, where Brittany Lang picked up her first career victory in a four-hole playoff.

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@TimMcKayGolf


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