When Tiger Woods was at the peak of his powers, golf so desperately wanted someone to step up and simply challenge him. Mickelson, Els, Goosen and Singh come to mind. So, too, did one-week big men like Bob May and Chris DiMarco.
For a while, golf reached so far as to concoct a Big Three or a Big Five. It never materialized. It was a figment of our imagination.
Now the same thing is happening to Rory McIlroy, and he's not all that interested in the chatter.
“The talk doesn’t change much," he said Wednesday ahead of The Players Championship. "Last year it was Rickie, this year it’s Jordan. It could have been Tiger. There have been four or five rivals in the past year. It doesn’t really do anything for me.”
That may prove to be bulletin-board material for Spieth, who was almost irrationally crowned the best player in the world after his record-smashing Masters win in April. Spieth and McIlroy will both tell you that the scoreboard of wins -- especially majors -- heavily favors the Ulsterman.
That said, McIlroy is excited to spend the next two days with Spieth and 27-year-old Aussie Jason Day at TPC Sawgrass.
“When I saw the draw come out, I was excited to play, not just with Jordan but obviously with Jason Day as well,” McIlroy said. “It's always nice when you're a part of a group that's got a little bit of a buzz around it and a good atmosphere.”