May 21

The 19th Golf Show: Expecting a rivalry that might never happen

After golf collectively got excited about the prospect of a new Big Three of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, the world No. 1 quelled that talk with two wins in his last three starts.

But here's the thing: There hasn't been a great golf rivalry in the last half-century that didn't involve Jack Nicklaus. We explain why and how it'll be difficult for a great rivalry to ever surface again.

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Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

May 21

Dan Jenkins: Tiger Woods beat a bunch of nobodies in majors

Tiger Woods and legendary writer Dan Jenkins aren't on each other's Christmas card lists.

Woods never gave Jenkins the kind of sit-down interview he was granted by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Jenkins lashed out against Woods in his critique of the former world No. 1 after revelations of Woods' serial marital infidelity. 

Then, after Jenkins published a (clearly) parody interview with Woods in Golf Digest in November 2014 (the December issue), Woods took to Derek Jeter's The Players' Tribune to deride the piece and scold Jenkins. 

[PODCAST: Why golf has no great rivalries without Jack Nicklaus]

Jenkins shot back this week in an interview with the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, saying Woods' major accomplishments pale compared to golf's new generation because of the quality of opponents the two beat.

"There's much more talent at the top (and the bottom) than there was during Tiger's peak years," Jenkins said. "Tiger beat a lot of nobodies to win most of his majors.

"Yeah, there was Phil [Mickelson] and [Ernie] Els around, in and out, but go back and look who was second to him in those majors and tell me where they are now."

Though Mickelson and Els were runner-up to Woods in three of the majors Woods won, there were also the likes of Bob May and Chris DiMarco. 

Jenkins was speaking more in support for fellow Texan and Masters champion Jordan Spieth, but it was an easy shot against Woods.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

May 21

Rory McIlroy aiming for two of final three 2015 majors

This is when it all really began for Rory McIlroy a year ago. He had abruptly ended his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki, seemingly setting himself up for a tailspin of a summer.

Instead, he went out that week and won the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour's flagship event. From there, he went on to win his first Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and his second PGA Championship in three years. 

The world No. 1 is aiming for a similar summer in 2015.

"There's three majors left, and I feel like two of those major venues are going to set up really well with me, at St. Andrews and Whistling Straits," McIlroy told Sky Sports ahead of this week's BMW PGA Championship.

Of course, Chambers Bay, the U.S. Open host, is an unknown as it's never held a major championship, but McIlroy demonstrated his game fits the other two venues in 2010, the last time both venues hosted their respective championships. At St. Andrews, McIlroy opened with 9-under 63 at the Old Course before shooting 80 in gale-force winds and still finishing in a tie for third, well behind eventual winner Louis Oosthuizen. Then at Whistling Straits, McIlroy finished just a shot out of the playoff between Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.

It could be another very good summer for the Ulsterman.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

May 20

Rory McIlroy: A 25-year career should be enough for me

Jack Nicklaus won his final major, the 1986 Masters, at the age of 46. 

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy may be retired from professional golf for three years when he hits that age. Speaking to the BBC, the four-time major winner said he's looking at a career that ends in his early 40s.

"I don't anticipate playing senior golf or championship golf," McIlroy said.

"Twenty-five years should be enough to help me achieve what I want to," he added. "If there comes a time when I feel I can't win or give it my best I'd very happily hang up the sticks and do something else."

Doing the math, McIlroy, who turned pro at 18, would walk away from the game at 43. So, with some 14 years left, what does the Ulsterman hope to achieve?

"I feel like I'm in a generation with a lot of young guys that are coming up and I want to be the best of this generation," said McIlroy.

What it'll take to solidify that moniker is still unclear, and will be for years, but McIlroy is willing to do what it takes.

"I want to win a lot more tournaments; I can win a lot more majors," he said. "I haven't put a number on it because I don't want to put that burden on myself. I just want to be better than everyone else."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

May 20

Power rankings: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

The PGA Tour has rolled into Texas for the first of two consecutive weeks in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, starting with the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. 

Jordan Spieth headlines the field, while Adam Scott is defending champion, winning in a playoff over Jason Dufner last year. Fellow Texan Jimmy Walker is also a popular player in the field. Patrick Rodgers, who was T-2 at Quail Hollow, can lock up special temporary PGA Tour membership with a modest finish.

Here's a look at our top five for the week:

1. Jordan Spieth — Spieth was a dud at The Players, but he has to be motivated by Rory McIlroy making him look inferior the last few weeks. He’s been in the top 14 in two Colonial starts.

2. Zach Johnson — Last year, a four-year Colonial run ended in which Johnson won twice and didn’t finish worse than fourth. Modest form includes a nice T-13 at The Players.

3. Jimmy Walker — Walker hasn’t played too well of late, but he does have two wins this season and was T-10 here last year.

4. Ryan Palmer — Ryan Palmer’s been on a nice run in this event, with T-5 finishes in 2012 and ’14. He missed the cut at The Players but has largely been a T-25 staple this year.

5. Kevin Na — Kevin Na missed the cut here last year for the first time in eight career starts. He’s been in the top 20 in his last six PGA Tour stroke-play starts, so he’s a good bet.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

May 20

Greg Norman declines Open berth in last year of eligibility

This July is the last time Greg Norman is exempt into the Open Championship. He's taking a pass on playing at St. Andrews, ceding his spot to another player.

A two-time Open champion (1986, '93), Norman is exempt until age 60, which he is now. However, R&A rules would force Norman to qualify for the Open another way once he turns 61. That's not going to happen.

"I don't practice anymore," Norman told the BBC.

Norman has long since moved on from competitive golf, giving most of his attention to other businesses, including his golf-course design venture. He has also stepped into the broadcast booth and will be in the 18th tower in June as Fox Sports broadcasts its first U.S. Open under a 12-year deal with the USGA.

The lack of preparation wouldn't preclude Norman from showing up and trying to ham-and-egg his way to the weekend, but the Aussie believes someone else deserves a chance.

"I'm not going to walk up to the first tee and feel like I'm taking the space of a young kid who could learn a heck of a lot more from it," he said. "I don't believe in doing that. I think it's so unfair to do that."

Norman suggested that the person that takes his spot -- now an extra one available through open qualifying -- could be the game's next great.

He said, "There's a young kid who may be qualifying for the Open that could take my spot and could be the next Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods -- you don't know."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

May 19

McIlroy: More fit players would improve golf’s popularity

Rory McIlroy is in really good shape, but he wasn't always the bulging mass of muscle he is now. He was once a little pudgy and a whole lot of curly. 

Now more clean cut, in shape and on top of the golf world, McIlroy figures the sport's popularity would improve if more of his peers made that effort to improve their physical fitness.

“I think [golf] has progressed a lot and has become more of an athletic look,"  McIlroy said on "The Dan Patrick Show."

"You don’t need to be built like a linebacker, but you need to have stability and strength in certain areas and of course, if more golfers look athletic, it portrays a much better image for the game. That encourages kids to pick up the sport or a club."

You mean to tell me kids don't enjoy watching, say, Brendon de Jonge because he has some extra lbs on him? What about Angel Cabrera? No one wants to see El Pato Flaco. 

But the Ulsterman does have a point. Kids look up to super athletes who look like they can do amazing things, not guys who look like they can down a 12 pack with no six-pack.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

May 18

McIlroy: Spieth inspired my recent surge

Rory McIlroy is the best player on the planet. When he's on his game, as he was this past weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship, he's almost impossible to beat.

How many guys on the planet that you know can hit a 365-yard drive and a gap wedge to 3 feet on a 510-yard par 4 playing into the wind?

The Sunday triumph at Quail Hollow was McIlroy's second win in his last three starts, including a win at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play. This run isn't simply the byproduct of things clicking again for the world No. 1. This has been inspired play, thanks to Jordan Spieth's record-setting Masters win and the subsequent fawning over the 21-year-old as the game's new king.

McIlroy wanted to put the brakes to all that talk, and he knew the best way to do that was with a visual demonstration.

"To win the Masters at 21 and to do it the way he did, it was a phenomenal performance," McIlroy said of Spieth on Monday on "The Dan Patrick Show." "It definitely inspired me. I'm really happy for Jordan, he's a great guy. I'm expecting more of that out of him in the future. I know I'm going to have to work hard to stay ahead of him and try and beat him."

He added, "It inspired me to have a little bit more edge and have a little bit more intensity."

McIlroy won't play again on the PGA Tour until the U.S. Open, teeing it up the next two weeks on the European Tour, including the BMW PGA Championship, where he is defending champion, and the Irish Open, which he will host in his native Northern Ireland at Royal County Down, a top-10 course in the world.

Though Spieth didn't have his best stuff at The Players, where he was grouped with McIlroy and fellow young gun Jason Day the first two days before missing the cut, McIlroy expects the Texan to play inspired in his home state.

McIlroy said, "I'm sure (my run) will spur Jordan on as well."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.