Rory McIlroy Does Not Fear Tiger Woods. Hopefully, Tiger Takes This As An Insult.
One of the most-talked-about aspects of Tiger Woods' recent on-and-off-course struggles is that he no longer strikes fear into the hearts of opponents. (Drew Magary thinks he'll never win another major because of it.) And earlier today, we got one of the clearest examples yet of this lack of fear - Rory McIlroy openly says he wants Woods on the U.S. side when the Ryder Cup opens play.
And McIlroy didn't say that out of some pure, competitive, "you gotta beat the best to be the best" mentality. No, he said it because he thinks Tiger, as the linked Yahoo! article put it, "easy prey":
"I would love to face him. Unless his game rapidly improves... I think anyone in the European team would fancy their chances against him."
You know we live in a much different golfing world when a player feels comfortable enough to openly say this. Back in the day, Tiger was seen as a Jordanesque athletic killer. You don't talk even the mildest trash about someone like that, and you definitely don't talk about how confident you are you can beat them - in a public forum, no less.
We're not sure McIlroy was correct, though, when he said he "[doesn't] think it would go down too well in the States" if Tiger isn't selected for the team. His mystique - or at least a very large portion of it - crashed and burned along with his public image. Now, even when it looks like he's about to make a run, caustic observations about his personal life still linger in our minds.
Right now, Tiger is not playing good enough golf to warrant a Ryder Cup spot, and our feeling is that U.S. fans understand that. And hey, hopefully remarks like McIlroy's (and a Ryder snub?) are just what Tiger needs to regain his edge.
He has to own his struggles, internalize his downfall, and set out on a mission of on-course vengeance. If he's lost any of his competitive fire, some haters might re-jump-start his career. For the sake of golf, at least, let's hope they do.
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