Tiger and McIlroy set for rematch in China

China_donking_600Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at the 2012 Duel at Jinsha Lake in China. Somewhere, Don King is nodding (Kohjiro Kinno, SI). It doesn’t have the ring of the Rumble in the Jungle or the Thrilla in Manila.
But you can’t blame the marketers for trying.
Mark your calendars for the Duel at Jinsha Lake, Part Deux.
Actually, the Duel at Jinsha Lake was what they called it last year, taking a page from Don King’s playbook to plug the first-ever exhibition match in China between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
This time around, they’ve yet to pick a venue, so we don’t know what clever tagline they’ll be using. But as Golf Channel reported, it’s happening on Oct. 28: another tete-a-tete between the world’s two top-ranked players in the land of Tianlang Guan.
In the 2012 edition, a pay-per-view event at Jinsha Lake International Golf Club, just outside Beijing, McIlroy won by one-shot with a bogey-free round of 67.
“Rory and I have played against and with each other a lot over the past few years, and he beat me in China last time so I’m looking forward to playing again,” Woods said by way of press release, offering the most canned-sounding quote money can buy.
The first time they met in China, Woods received a reported $2 million appearance fee. McIroy’s haul was a reported $1 million. But now that the 24-year-old has joined Tiger in Nike’s high-paid stable of golf thoroughbreds, you have to think his take will be even bigger this year.
“It’s exciting to play against Tiger in this format,” McIlroy said, in more prepared-statement prose that makes you pine for the poetry of Muhammad Ali. “We’ve played together many times in regular four-day Tour events, but it’s different when it’s just the two of us in an 18-hole battle.”

China_fans_300A lot has happened since their last exhibition meeting. Woods has found love and his putting stroke. McIlroy has fallen hard for Caroline Wozniacki, and his game has fallen on hard times.
“Everyone knows he’s hugely competitive each time he steps on the golf course,” McIlroy said of Woods. “So I know he’ll want to beat me, just as I’ll be very keen to beat him again.”
You could almost cut the tension with a one-iron.
Good thing is, as faux excitement builds for their fall match-up in China, Woods and McIroy have something real to prepare for.
Let the Melee at Muirfield begin! Photo: Young fans cheer Woods and McIlroy in China in 2012 (Getty Images).

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by Kevin Cunningham