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Tiger vs. Rory? Forget it this week

Tiger against Rory.

How’d that work out?

I’ll admit to being guilty as charged in suggesting that this Masters, the one without the azaleas, was destined to be a defining chapter in the still-undeveloped Woods-vs.-McIlroy rivalry.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, back when Tiger had a confident little smirk on his face in his pre-tournament prep after winning Arnie’s event at Bay Hill and Rory was tossing off one-liners about his pie-in-the-face moment on Sunday last year.

They looked like a better match than chips and dip.

Then Tiger’s golf swing developed more problems than Bobby Petrino has and McIlroy suddenly forgot how to play. They looked like two guys playing Saturday golf at the club – and needing shots from their friends.

Woods has made exactly one more birdie than me on Augusta’s par-5s this week, a stat that’s as surprising as a Jason Dufner smile. Woods was 133-under par on the par-5s coming into this week. Apparently that was enough.

He’s fussed and fidgeted and fumed for three days, looking again like a lost soul in search of a game that’s as hard for him now as it is for the rest of us. All he needs is a little fix, Tiger says, and he’ll be fine. Hopefully, he’ll figure it out before the Wells Fargo Championship four weeks from now.

It hasn’t been a good week for Woods. The book his former teacher Hank Haney wrote about their time together, ‘The Big Miss,’ will debut at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. That probably sits as well with Tiger as bad fish.

He’s taken shots from other national publications and been scorched on message boards and talk shows about kicking his club on the 16th hole Friday. He deserves credit for making better contact with his 9-iron than with his golf ball. He apologized for his outburst Saturday but the video loop of his drop-kick is now there forever with various other misadventures.

What’s happened?

“It was just one thing after another,” Woods said.

That about explains it.

As for McIlroy, he started Saturday a shot behind co-leaders Fred Couples and Dufner. He double-bogeyed the first hole, which can sour your egg salad in a hurry, and then he tacked on another double at the par-4 seventh where the hole kept hiding from his golf ball.

He turned in 42 – which sounds like a jacket size, not a score – and at least showed the good humor of hugging his playing partner Sergio Garcia as they walked off the 12th green together, both having made birdies there to lower their combined score to 10-over for the day at that point. Apparently no one told them the Masters doesn’t have a third-flight best-ball competition.

This Masters now belongs to someone else, maybe Phil Mickelson or Peter Hanson or Hunter Mahan. It doesn’t belong to Tiger or Rory.

They now own the questions.

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