Consider the scene during press day at The Barclays. Rory took the mic before Tiger and ran a little long -- long enough that Tiger had to wait for his turn. After answering a slew of questions about the Ryder Cup, McIlroy gave Woods a little wave. Then, he was asked another.
"I know the Ryder Cup is a ways away," one reporter asked, "But how --"
McIlroy snatched the question mid-air: "Yeah, I'd love to go out there," he joked. "I'd love Tiger to go out first and kick his ass."
Woods, never one to joke about something so serious as golf, stopped the gag cold with one word and a canny grin.
"I know he was joking, but are you ready to have your ass kicked by Rory at Medinah?" asked a voice from the crowd minutes later.
"At Medinah?" Tiger said, already slipping into a smile. "No."
Take heart golf fans (and press). As they say, jokes often spring from a kernel of truth. I think Ben Franklin said that. Maybe the Simpsons. No matter: We will be free to imagine any rivalry we want Thursday morning, when the two take the course side-by-side in first round of The Barclays at Bethpage. For the complete transcipt both press conferences, go to ASAPSports.com.