I took a question from a reader regarding Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods on the heels of my Rotoworld Sully’s Snapshot http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/42160/350/preseason-top-125 power ranking. His question was along the lines of which one to take in a season-long salary cap game, given that they each cost the same price. It’s a hypothetical I’ve asked myself as well.
I stand by my ranking of Rory McIlroy as number one and Woods as two, but it’s really close. In fact, in certain formats I would take Woods over McIlroy, but Rory’s earned the top spot in any preseason ranking until he proves himself unworthy. He deserves the benefit of the doubt.
The biggest unknown of the whole debate is how McIlroy handles an equipment change to Nike. For most golfers, there is an adjustment period. We all know McIlroy isn’t “most golfers.” I have to think that McIlroy will do all he can to be ready for the Masters, but last season he played just three events on TOUR before driving down Magnolia Lane.
Prior to the Masters, he was runner-up at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, won The Honda Classic and was third at the second WGC of the year at Doral. He then took almost a month off and tied for 40th at the Masters. He has hinted that he will play a light schedule in 2013, and history shows that he doesn’t play well in his first tournament after a layoff, but plays extremely well when he’s playing the second tournament in a two-week span.
Woods is a known commodity. Barring another injury setback, we know from last year that TW will perform on courses where he has a history of solid play. We know his weakness is keeping his driver in play, fearing a right-to-left draw will turn into a hook he favors a fade that costs him yardage. The only thing we don’t know his how he’ll handle the majors this year.
If you pin me to the wall in terms of majors, I like McIlroy’s chances the best at the Masters and Woods at The Open Championship.
As odd as it sounds, 2013 will come down to confidence for both guys. Is Rory confident in his equipment? Is Tiger confident in his health? Does anything change with Rory’s high-profile relationship with Caroline for good or bad (talk about a possible tailspin)? Is Tiger confident on the weekend at majors this year?
Several other caveats, two of the four courses where Rory won in 2012 are off the rotation in 2013 (Kiawah Island and Crooked Stick). All three of Tiger’s are in play. Tiger also will likely play two or three more events than Rory.
In a season-long salary cap game where the prices are the same, I take Rory without blinking if he’s still playing Titleist. As it stands, it’s murky. Tiger’s your safer pick, but Rory has a higher upside. I’m more tempted to take Tiger, because I don’t like surprises.