The inevitable comparisons between golfers have begun: Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger Woods. The style of play. The statistics. The fact both won major tournaments in their salad days: McIlroy’s recent U.S. Open win at the ripe old age of 22 and Tiger Woods’s first Masters Tournament at age 21.

Both golfers have the ability to play nearly flawless rounds. Both have swings that are strong and go long, with incredible accuracy hitting the fairways. Both putt well. And both attract plenty of enthusiastic fans. Though Woods’s fall from grace in 2009 put a significant hole in his Golden Boy image that he has yet to overcome, the former wunderkind still has plenty of fans. And how about boy-next-door McIlroy? He’s a star; no doubt about it. And now it looks like he’s an emerging superstar.

Many argue that golf, like most sports, has increasingly become a game of up-and-comers. The last four major tournaments have been won by twenty-somethings. That raises the question: With Tiger’s spate of recent injuries and his age (he’s all of 35 years old,) can he come back?

Better yet: Will a new rivalry be born between Woods and McIlroy? If so, and we hear that McIlroy plans on playing more in the United States, we could enjoy years of memorable golf moments if a rivalry does develop.

Like any other sport, golf thrives on great personal brands, compelling storylines and legends (people and exploits.)
• What’s more compelling than a strong rivalry?
• What’s better than head-to-head match-ups to generate the kind of fan excitement we see in team sports?
• Doesn’t golf need a new compelling story right now? What do you think of the possibility of a Woods-McIlroy rivalry? Good for the sport or distracting?

Please feel free to weigh in. I’d love to hear from you.

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni