ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 28: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Tiger Woods of the USA during the third round of Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on January 28, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Tiger and Rory will have at it in the first FedEx Cup playoff, The Barclays, next week at Bethpage State Park.
Thanks to Tiger Woods’ No. 1 ranking in FedEx Cup points and Rory McIlroy’s record-breaking victory at last week’s PGA Championship bouncing him up to No. 2, the superstars will make up two-thirds of the marquee grouping next week at The Barclays.
While the final rankings won’t be tabulated until after this week’s Wyndham Championship, both players will finish out the regular season among the top three in the standings despite their absences from the event. The only player who could surpass Woods atop the FedEx Cup ladder is Jason Dufner, currently in third place.
Dufner, who’s won twice this season, would need to finish in a two-way tie for second or better to take Woods’ spot, according to PGATour.com’s Mike McAllister. Even so, Woods and McIlroy are guaranteed to be in the top three and will walk together for the first two rounds of the season’s first so-called playoff game.
McAllister offered this additional scenario involving the likelihood that Dufner would round out the Tiger-Rory threesome next week. Should Carl Pettersson, last week’s 36-hole leader, take Wyndham and win the 500 FEC points up for grabs, and Dufner finish below 19th, the Swede with the belly putter would join Woods and McIlroy.
We’ll leave any additional points ciphering to the PGA Tour’s stats geeks. We’re far more interested in what each show-stopper might wear should they meet on Sunday at Bethpage State Park.
With McIlroy hinting, after his eight-shot win, that he might consider adding Woods’ signature power red shirt to his Sunday attire, we’re holding out hope that the two major champions will square off in The Barclays finale. McIlroy said he would have eschewed the blood-red smock he wore to a flawless, 6-under 66 final round had he and Woods been playing together, but we sure would like to see the two masters of their crafts go chest-to-chest, cardinal couture and all.