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PGA Tour Confidential: The Game's Best Rivalries, Olympic Golf Formats and the Stenson/Poulter Radio Specials

Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods
Fred Vuich / Sports Illustrated
Woods' 14 major championships leaves him four behind The Golden Bear … for now.

Every Sunday night, conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning faced off in New England on Sunday night in one of football's great rivalries. What is the best rivalry in golf today? Do you see any budding rivalries on the horizon?

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The best rivalry in golf today is Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. The best one on deck is Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): I can't name one actual rivalry in golf today. When most top players win only eight or 10 times in a career, it's pretty tough to build a rivalry. Jack and Arnie won more than 60 times each. It's no wonder they bumped heads. Other than Phil and Tiger, who have seldom gone head to head, there's not much else.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, (@Jeff_Ritter): Easy: it's Tiger vs. Jack's record. But if we're picking two pros who have met on the course, it's Tiger vs. Phil. They are golf's biggest stars and most compelling characters. They seem to get along better these days, but if we ever had those two in the final group on a major championship Sunday, I'd expect a TV ratings records. For the future, I think McIlroy bounces back, hits his prime as Phil fades and becomes Tiger's most consistent challenger. But until Woods retires, his pursuit of Jack's record will continue to be the biggest story in golf.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated (@MarkGodich): I have to go with Tiger and Phil. One of the keys to any rivalry is a dislike for each other, and I don't think it's any secret what these two think of one another.

Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): From a field of very weak candidates, I think you have to go with Woods/Mickelson. Both are among the world's best with enough history and antipathy to qualify. As for the future, I could see Dustin Johnson having a heated relationship with whatever divorce attorney Paulina hires.

Joe Passov, senior editor, courses and travel, Golf Magazine (@joepassov): At present, there are two golf rivalries I care about: the U.S. Ryder Cup team versus Europe and Tiger Woods versus Phil Mickelson. The 2013 Open Championship was that much more compelling for me because Tiger and Phil were right in the mix when the final round started. I'm not seeing any budding rivalries coming anytime soon, though I sure hope I'm wrong. Most of the current top players seem to be too nice, too rich and too inconsistent from year-to-year to develop and sustain any rivalries.

Mike Walker, senior editor, (@michaelwalkerjr): Europe versus the United States in the Ryder Cup is the game’s only true rivalry today. Tiger vs. Phil is a distant second because it’s so rare that they both play their best golf at the same event. Earl Woods said years ago that when Tiger and Phil go head-to-head, someone else usually wins the tournament. That’s still the case today.

2. At the World Cup, Jason Day overcame personal tragedy and finally broke through to win an event, rather than finishing runner-up. Is there anyone more talented in golf with fewer overall wins?

PASSOV: Jason Day reminds me of Tom Lehman in his PGA Tour prime. You can count Lehman's regular Tour wins on one hand, yet he was seemingly a lock in every office pool to contend in all four majors. I'm mystified that Day can be so good and usually so clutch on the game's biggest stages, yet hoist trophies so infrequently.

SENS: No. He’s been knocking at the door for so long now, you forget that he's only 26.

VAN SICKLE: Jason Day looks terrific when he's hitting on all cylinders, but that doesn't happen very often. He's got a lot of potential, but he's got a ways to go to fulfill it. Rickie Fowler, with one win, seems like he's got more talent than he's showed.

GODICH: He's certainly a good candidate, but before we go beating him up, let's remember that he just turned 26.

BAMBERGER: I don't know how to measure talent in golf, except by scores made, tournaments won, money won, how often a player contends. But this is wonderful win. Jason Day, like Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco, took an amazing path to get to where he is, and it's gratifying to see him win, most especially under these horrible circumstances.

WALKER: Day’s win in Australia after losing eight relatives -- including his grandmother -- in Typhoon Haiyan is one of the most affecting sports stories of the year. His win total will start matching his talent in the coming years.

RITTER: Congrats to Jason for winning under such tough personal circumstances. It seems like he could have about 10 wins and three majors, but he's only 26 years old. Now he's learning how to win. More titles are coming.

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