Its McIlroy v Scott - Round 1, but great rivalries are hard to find in golf
By: Ross Starkey

Scott opened the Australian Open with a course record 62 readying for a clean sweep of the Australian triple crown, having already won the PGA and Masters. He took a four shot lead into the final round, but hot on his heels with two birdies and an eagle in the first nine was playing partner McIlroy. There was only ever one shot between the pair on the back nine and when Scott mis-clubbed over the back of the 18th green McIlroy was left with a ten footer for birdie and a first win in 2013.

As McIlroy started to remember what it felt like to win again and with Scott learning how win multiple titles we might just have witnessed the first act in what could be a great rivalry in 2014.

Great rivalries are still few and far between in golf. It's the nature of the game, there are always many players capable of winning each week and top players don't always enter the same tournaments, if they do they rarely put it all together at the same time to produce thrills.

One of the great rivalries we've never seen in golf has been Phil Mickelson versus Tiger Woods. With 83 top tens in majors between them and 19 major titles to boast they have only really competed against each other in one, the 2002 US Open. We are left with just one memorable fight, at the Ford Championship in 2005 when they slugged it out man to man in one of the best watched PGA Tour events of all time. Yet for all the media talk of a rivalry between the two biggest players of the last ten years, it just hasn't happened.

It's true that classic match ups in golf are rare, usually built up more by the written press than by the action on the course. Perhaps this is why great battles like Watson and Nicklaus at Turnberry in 1977 are so well remembered.

We saw snippets of a Greg Norman and Nick Faldo rivalry in the 1990s but there just wasn't enough edge. Everyone loved Norman, few felt any attachment for Faldo.

Which makes the 2013 Australian Open something of an anomaly; a shoot out between Scott and McIlroy which delivered on its own billing. Two players who have proved they can live, and beat, the very best in golf. And what's more, they're two of the most likeable guys out there. Whilst McIlroy finally comes to terms with his enormous, under performing talent (and equipment), Adam Scott looks every bit the complete player his contemporaries have feared he would become. Can we expect some major tussles in 2014? We hope so!


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