I'm revelling in the Rickie and Rory rivalry

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Old 10-May-2012
I'm revelling in the Rickie and Rory rivalry

Although I did not get to see it personally, I am sure the battle for supremacy between Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy in the Wells Fargo Championship must have made for compelling viewing.

Of course, DA Points was also in the mix as the three players went into a play-off at Quail Hollow.

But Rickie and Rory, 23 and 22 respectively, are easily the most-talked-about youngsters in the game, and both enjoy massive fan following.

Having had extremely distinguished amateur careers, a lot was expected of both the players when they turned pro. And, to be fair, Rickie was off the block within no time compared to Rory, posting a top ten finish in his very first start, and then losing in a play-off at the Frys.com Open in 2009.

Once you have that combination — a great amateur career and a brilliant start as a pro — it is but natural the pressure of expectation builds up on you. And, even though Rickie continued to play decent golf, he failed to win anything on the main tours.

You'll notice I said ‘main tours', because I thought his win in last year's Kolon Korean Open, which is part of the OneAsia Tour, was a spectacular effort. Under difficult conditions at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club, Rickie was exemplary in shooting 16-under par and beat a red-hot Rory by as many as six shots.

To all his critics, the only thing I have to say is that it is not easy to win a golf tournament. Unlike most sports where you are involved in a one-on-one battle with an opponent, you have to take on the combined might of at least 143 other players over four days of varying conditions. Even if you have four fantastic rounds, there is always the chance somebody else played out of his socks on just the final day and beat you by one shot.

Players like Rory, Rickie, Ryo Ishikawa, Jason Day and Noh Seung-yul deserve to be given their space. Considering golfers supposedly hit their prime in their 30s, they have many more years to develop further. If they are doing so well so early in their careers, it is because they are exceptional talents. They have champions inside them; all they need is to add a bit of experience.

Hopefully we will have some more of the Rickie-Rory show this week at the Players' Championship on the PGA Tour, the richest golf tournament in the world and considered by many to be the ‘fifth Major'. Most of the big names in the game are in the field, and the TPC Sawgrass should bring out the best in them

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