Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy (arguably the two biggest names in golf) will stage a rematch of their inaugural match up in China on Oct. 28 in the most epic way possible; a face-to-face event at the grandest golf resort in the world’s most populous country.
Mission Hills, a 20-square-kilometer layout that features 12 courses designed by some of the games greats, will once again host the match. The award-winning resort in Shenzhen has also hosted the World Cup of Golf as well as the Asian Amateur Championships.
It’s a fitting place to host the duel between the most dominant golfer of the modern era and his heir apparent. Well…. that is the press line at least, but the reality is that the duo has had trouble competing at high levels at the same time. During their matchup last October, McIlroy was the golfer who came into the event on a high note. He won the PGA Tour money title as well as the European money title, and was freshly removed from winning the PGA championship by a staggering eight shots. He also won three other PGA Tour events wins and notched a top-5 finish in every WGC event he played in in 2012.
In the offseason, McIlroy went on to sign a multi-million-dollar contract with Tiger’s company, Nike Golf, leaving Titleist in the same fashion that Woods did years earlier, as well as filming a commercial with Woods that served as a symbolic passing (or sharing) of the torch.
While Woods enjoyed somewhat of a brief resurgence in 2012 (three PGA Tour wins), it paled in comparison to domination golf fans had grown accustomed to in prior years. As expected, McIlroy bested Woods in their 2012 dual, though only by a shot.
In 2013, the roles of Woods and McIlroy have somewhat reversed. Mcilroy started the year slowly and ended even slower. He’s yet to pick up a win in 2013 or even seriously contend in a major event. He’s been dogged by questions about his commitment to the game, his relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki and his decision to switch equipment sponsors.
On the other hand, Tiger has moved closer to what golf fans expect year-in and year-out from him. He has won five PGA Tour events, including two WGC events in impressive fashion, and he has picked up two top-10 finishes in majors. His game is starting resemble that of which golf fans expect of Tiger, and as of the third round of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs he is the clear favorite in the event.
Golf fans should appreciate the head-to-head matchup between these two golf stars, because it hasn’t happened as often as they had hoped the past two years. This event represents not just a promotional event or a money grab (rumored to be worth $2 million, as it happens), it represents a chance to see something the golf world hopes will come to be commonplace in the future — Woods and Mcilroy fighting it out for big money on the world’s grandest stages. So far it has been elusive in majors and WGCs, but we have these October events in China, and that is something.