independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Rory McIlroy v Tiger Woods: All banter and no buzz at hyped duel

THE promoters billed it like a heavyweight title fight, the world's top two golfers even posing face-to-face on the first tee, almost like boxers at weigh-in.

"The time for pleasantries is over," roared one of the pre-match posters.

Yet the pleasantries were the most interesting part as Rory McIlroy beat Tiger Woods on points, sorry by one stroke, in front of several thousand fans at the 'Duel at Jin Sha', China, early yesterday.

Both players were wired for sound and it was intriguing to eavesdrop as these best of 'frenemies' ambled around their 'office' on a muggy Monday morning.

The first nugget came at seven as they discussed how draining the season had been, Woods agreeing with McIlroy that he intends trimming his schedule in 2013, back from the 23 tournaments he'll play this year.

McIlroy's favourite sports -- soccer and rugby -- were the topic on 12.

Ryo Ishikawa came up at the next, the Ulsterman playfully lamenting the Japan teenager's winning 58 in The Crowns, the same Sunday he clinched his first PGA Tour title.

McIlroy suggested it would be a long drive home if Tiger won the hole-in-one prize at 17, a car. Woods retorted that the journey through Siberia 'might break it in nicely.'

After wrapping up a bogey-free 67, McIlroy (23) took the honours on five-under. He has now finished ahead on just three of the 10 occasions he's played a round with Tiger.

"Well done bud," said Woods proffering his hand on the final green, a watery smile barely concealing his displeasure at a ho-hum, four-under 68, which saw Tiger chip in among his six birdies.

So somebody stumped up a reported $5.3m to stage this event! Supposedly, Tiger was paid $2m and McIlroy $1m. It was pay-per-view on the internet. Efforts to discover how many subscribed came to naught, but the receipt for my AUS$4.95 said 'Order No 13,807' -- very low, considering I tuned in well after play started.

If it's knockout action you want on pay-per-view, stick to boxing.

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