McIlroy and Koepka 'too nice' to have a rivalry like Woods and Mickelson - DiMarco

By Sports Desk April 04, 2020

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka are "too nice" to engage in the sort of rivalry that once existed between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, says Chris DiMarco.

Back in October, Koepka, winner of four majors between the 2017 U.S. Open and 2019 US PGA Championship and ranked number one in the world, dismissed the notion of McIlroy being one of his nearest challengers for golf's biggest prizes.

"I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I've been on the PGA Tour. So I just don't view it as a rivalry," Koepka said.

McIlroy took a diplomatic approach in his reply, saying Koepka had not said anything out of turn and the pair are good friends.

"I love Brooks, he's a great guy," McIlroy said of the comments."He's obviously super-competitive, like we all are. I can see where he's coming from.

"I think if you take what Brooks said out of context then it can become this big thing that it's become. But Brooks and I are good, we're good friends."

McIlroy then recorded seven consecutive finishes inside the top five to return to the summit of the rankings prior to the suspension of the PGA and European Tours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

But DiMarco believes there is too much talent in the game now for two players to engage in a genuine rivalry such as the one Woods and Mickelson – where he said there was once a "genuine dislike" – had during the 2000s.

"The problem is both those guys are so nice, like literally to everybody," DiMarco told Stats Perform.

"So, it just seems if there is a rivalry between them it's almost kind of made up. They kind of live in the same area, it's almost like they talked to each other and said, 'let's just kind of jab back and forth with each other and make a rivalry'. They're too nice. 

"There's really in all honesty just too many great players right now. Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson there's too many – Rickie Fowler – for two people to just kind of make themselves higher than anyone else, I don't think it's going to happen anymore. 

"Obviously, Rory and Brooks over the last two years have probably been the best two but Dustin Johnson has been up there, Jon Rahm was looking like he could be number one here with a win a couple of weeks ago.

"There are a lot of hungry players out there and you're never going to see a rivalry kind of like you saw with Tiger and Phil, that's what people wanted to see because there was a genuine dislike for each other. 

"Now they're friendly, so now it's a little bit different, but back then there was a genuine dislike for each other, and they were clearly the number one and number two player in the world for many years so that rivalry you want to see. 

"I think these kids nowadays are just nice, and that's great, I love it, I always played as a nice guy too."

However, DiMarco does feel there is one player who would happily play the role of villain against either McIlroy or Koepka.

"I think the one guy who is probably a disliked guy out there on our Tour or the regular Tour is Patrick Reed," DiMarco added.

"If he ever makes it to number one then there's that guy people would love to hate again, he relishes in that, he loves being in that position, loves it when people give him crap. 

"If you could get a guy like Brooks Koepka – or Rory McIlroy – and Patrick Reed who maintain that level for so long, then you certainly have your true villain in Patrick Reed and your true good guy in one of those other guys."

Related items

  • Coronavirus: Ryder Cup behind closed doors would be a 'crime' - Stricker Coronavirus: Ryder Cup behind closed doors would be a 'crime' - Stricker

    United States captain Steve Stricker says it would be a "crime" if the Ryder Cup is staged behind closed doors at Whistling Straits in September.

    Team USA and Europe are due to do battle for the famous trophy in Wisconsin from September 25-27, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the event in doubt.

    Staging the biennial showpiece without spectators has been suggested, but Rory McIlroy is among the players who stated that he would prefer it to be postponed than go ahead with no fans.

    Stricker also feels that it is vital the public are allowed to watch the action in his home state.

    "This event is made by the fans. If it was without fans, it almost would be a yawner of an event," he told the Golf Affect Radio Show.

    "To cheat out the Wisconsin fans would be a crime. I hope when we do have it, it can be up to its full potential."

    Stricker expects a decision to be made in the next few weeks.

    He added: "So far we're planning it as a go, like we’re going to have it. But there's some obstacles that we're going to have to face, I think.

    "The confidence of the people and the corporate people. It's going to come down to probably the safety. And who knows, right?

    "They're going to have to make a decision here probably within the next two or three weeks because the build-up to put up all the stands and all the corporate tents, all that kind of stuff, has to happen in June."

  • Tiger Woods speaks out on 'shocking tragedy' after George Floyd death Tiger Woods speaks out on 'shocking tragedy' after George Floyd death

    Tiger Woods has described the death of George Floyd while in police custody as "a shocking tragedy".

    The 15-time major winner joined a long list of high-profile sports stars to speak out on the incident that has sparked protests across the United States and beyond.

    Floyd died after being handcuffed in Minneapolis, with a widely shared video showing a police officer kneeling on his neck as he pleaded, "I can't breathe".

    It has led to civil unrest in many US cities, with Woods – who underlined his "respect for law enforcement" – urging calm. 

    "My heart goes out to George Floyd, his loved ones and all of us who are hurting right now," Woods wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

    "I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement. They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. This shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line.

    "I remember the LA riots and learned that education is the best path forward. We can make our points without burning the very neighbourhoods that we live in.

    "I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society."

  • Liverpool and Ruiz prevail, Stokes battles Djokovic, Bolt lights up London - the 21st century's greatest sporting days Liverpool and Ruiz prevail, Stokes battles Djokovic, Bolt lights up London - the 21st century's greatest sporting days

    Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

    A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

    One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

    That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

     

    JULY 23, 2000

    The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

    The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

    Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

    The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

    Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

    FEBRUARY 1, 2004

    Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

    It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

    Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

    Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

    Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

    AUGUST 4-5, 2012

    One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

    On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

    Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

    Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

    The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

    JUNE 1, 2019

    It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

    Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

    In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

    But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

    The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

    JULY 14, 2019

    These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

    With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

    The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

    Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

    The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.