Friday 15 November 2019

Rory and Tiger should be lined up for singles shoot-out

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. Photo: Getty Images.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. Photo: Getty Images.

Des Smyth

I HAVE two wishes for this Ryder Cup at Medinah -- first, that Europe win, and second, that the respective captains make sure that Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods play each other in the Sunday singles.

Can it happen? Well, it might if left to chance, but wouldn't it be great if Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love III could negotiate a tacit agreement that Rory and Tiger go head-to-head.

Such a pre-selected pairing didn't happen in my time as a player or vice-captain and it's easy for me to say from a distance that it ought to happen, as much for the excitement it would generate for the Ryder Cup and for golf in general as anything else.

But it's not beyond the bounds of possibility.

The captains are friendly, even though, of course, what Jose and Davis want to do most is win the match.

It could take some delicate fencing around the subject, but what if Davis came and said: 'Look, it's the Ryder Cup, the world of golf would love to see Tiger and Rory having a game, might you be playing Rory at number three?

And Jose might say: 'Yeah, maybe.'

You don't want to give too much away to the opposition, but maybe the two captains could construct this one game.

Crown

I think it would be the right thing. Rory's the new heir apparent. He is definitely on course to take Tiger's crown.

He's only 23, he's won two Majors, he's the No 1 in the world, he's the No 1 in America, he's the No 1 in Europe.

Tiger, whatever you say about him, has taken the Jack Nicklaus mantle. He is still 'The Man'.

That's the one game I would say they should agree to play on Sunday. All the other pairings, let each captain list his men wherever he wants and let the order fall where it may.

Where to place Tiger and Rory if such a scenario unfolded? Probably around number five. Play them in the middle. The top and bottom of the order are vital, so I'd play them in the middle and let them at it.

If I was a vice-captain, it's something I'd put to Jose on the understanding that he was going to have a word with his opposite number and his vice-captain, so everybody knows what's going on.

Imagine how either one of the captains would feel if, for example, Jose said, with a nod and a wink, 'Rory's at number five, yeah' and all of a sudden, Tiger's at number one.

Now you'd think 'he's made a fool out of me'.

But this is the game you have to play. It may not happen, but I hope it does.

As for the match, I wouldn't like to have a bet on it. The bookies seem to be making the Americans slight favourites, but it's going to be a fascinating and close contest.

Irish Independent

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