PGA Tour Confidential: A Tiger-Rory face-off at Bethpage, Sergio pushes for Ryder Cup
Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
In his first action since the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods will be paired with Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds at the Barclays.
Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
TIGER VS. RORY AT BETHPAGE
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Like a lot of golf fans out there, I don’t really care how the FedEx Cup Playoffs work, I just want to see some compelling golf late in the season. Well, we’ve got a blockbuster showdown this week. Tiger and Rory (No. 1 and 2 on the points list) will be playing together Thursday and Friday at the Barclays at Long Island’s Bethpage Black, site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens. With those two superstars in the same group, on a big-time golf course, are you getting FedEx Cup fever?
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: No. But I like watching good golf.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: I’m not getting FedEx Cup fever, but I am very excited to see the tournament and watch how Bethpage tests the pros when it’s not soaked.
John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: To be honest, I don’t get even mildly feverish over first- and second-round pairings. But I love it when the stars collide on Sunday.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: The FedEx Cup really doesn’t matter to me until the Tour Championship, but I’m looking forward to Tiger-Rory for two days. My hunch is Tiger beats McIlroy for those 36 holes because I think it will mean more to him.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: As Michael said, the first of four good tournaments. We’ll see if there’s any sizzle.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: That’s gonna be a fascinating two days. I fully expect Tiger to drill the boy king, not that it’ll matter to Rory — he already has the trophy they both want.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: I’m not sure. Tiger might press too hard even though he, of all people, should know that there are only four tournaments that matter.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Tiger will win the FedEx Cup because he is the least likely to be thrown by the enormity of it. I agree with Michael that he simply wants the majors too much.
Dusek: If that’s the case, and Tiger Woods wins the overall FedEx Cup, he will nab another Player of the Year honor.
Wei: Which begs the question — do you deserve to win POY without a major? Unless you have six regular season victories and no one else does anything spectacular, then I say no.
Dusek: As contrived as the FedEx Cup series may be, it has certainly provided us with some late-season story lines. It does a nice job of filling the time between the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
Wei: I’ll admit that I did get a little into the Cup last year once it started, especially for the “bubble boys.” Ernie Els, who struggled last season, had to birdie the 72nd hole at the Deutsche Bank to move on to the BMW.
Morfit: Good point, Steph. We forget that Ernie started his run to his recent Open win with his FedEx performance last fall.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who will win the Tiger-Rory pairing at Bethpage?
MICKELSON RETURNS TO NY
Reiterman: It seems Phil Mickelson plays his best golf when there’s a little something extra on the line — final round at Augusta, a tee time with Tiger. Twice at Bethpage Black, Phil’s whipped the Long Island crowd into a frenzy only to come up short. Not to mention the meltdown at Winged Foot and another near miss at Shinnecock. Despite how he’s been playing lately, do you expect Phil to be in the hunt again this week?
Herre: No. There’s something wrong with Phil.
Morfit: I disagree. I think he might rediscover some mojo with the NYC vibe.
Dusek: I wish I could say that I was expecting a big week from Phil at Bethpage, but there’s nothing in his recent performances that leads me to think that. I do think that he will love playing in New York, as he always does, but it is so hard to flip a switch and go from playing mediocre golf to championship-winning golf. All the same, the crowds are going to be solidly behind him; maybe that’s just the lift he needs.
Bamberger: I do expect to see him in the hunt. I sense a second wind. Making that Ryder Cup team on points meant more to him than I think than we could ever know.
Dusek: I’m not expecting big things from Phil at Bethpage, but I do think he is going to be a force in the Ryder Cup. I think he has taken on the elder statesman role on the team and enjoys the hell out of it.
Wei: The fans in New York LOVE Phil. I know fans love him everywhere, but it’s hard to beat the devotion of New Yorkers, as we all know. I’d love to see him bounce back (especially for the sake of the Ryder Cup), but I feel like we’ll see a decent first two rounds and then he’ll fade. That’s become a pattern.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What do you expect from Mickelson at Bethpage Black?
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