Saturday, September 12, 2009

Here
we go again. Tiger and Paddy. Paddy and Tiger. With all due respect to vanilla
nice guys like Heath Slocum and Steve Stricker and Mark Wilson, the two most
compelling figures at this BMW are Tiger and Paddy, just as they’ve been the
keynote players over the past month and a half, dating to an unforgettable
final nine holes at Firestone. Both of these great champions have been playing golf that is both spectacular and occasionally maddening, setting up a weekend at Cog Hill that has unexpected importance.
Last year both Woods and Harrington were bigger than the FedEx Cup. Tiger missed it altogether following
knee surgery but still loomed large in absentia, thanks to his towering performance
at Torrey Pines that made every tournament that followed feel anticlimactic.
Harrington knocked around last year’s Cup for a while but his heart wasn’t in it,
as his double-dip at the British and PGA Championship had already established
him as the player of the year.
This
year both Woods and Harrington have come to the Cup with a bigger agenda, and
through two rounds at Cog Hill they’ve displayed a palpable intensity and
desire. Tiger doesn’t need the money but the FedEx Cup would be a pretty shiny
trophy in a majorless season. More immediately, he needs to reestablish himself
as the game’s most ruthless closer after his Sunday slipup at the PGA and stunning
72-hole miss at the Barclay’s.
Harrington has not tried to disguise
how urgently he needs a victory to salvage his season, and reputation. For 35
holes of this BMW he was perfect — or, at least, bogeyless — but a wild drive on 18
set eyelids rolling again. Harrington salvaged a scrambling bogey but that one
bad swing was a reminder of how fragile he has been under the gun this summer.
I expect one of these
two to win the tournament. It will be a big story either way, but in some ways
the guy who blows it will be more compelling. Stay tuned.

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