You can't stage manage a rivalry.
Anyone who watched the manufactured 'Duel at Lake Jinsha' between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy the other month will vouch for the truth in that statement. It can't be forced; it must be allowed to develop and it will only evolve and grow over time in the cut- and-thrust of proper competition. Woods knows this, of course.
While the money men will always try and orchestrate a half-hearted coming together, only the players themselves can really conjure a true clash of the titans.
Loading article content
As McIlroy's stranglehold of the global game tightens, Woods, the world No.3 who had the game in a vice-like grip for years, continues to show signs that he is returning to his former majesty. The duo had something of a dogfight earlier this season in the Honda Classic when Woods romped home with a 62 – it was the lowest final round of his career – to pile the pressure on, only for McIlroy to hold his nerve and close out a two-shot victory which took him to the top of the world order.
That had eager observers salivating at the possibility of the pair regularly going head-to-head on the grandest of stages, but it's not materialised yet.
"Whether we develop a rivalry remains to be seen," said Woods, in his end-of-year blog on TigerWoods.com. "Let's just let it play out and see where it takes us. We'll look at the results over the next five or 10 years and see if it becomes a rivalry or not.
"We'll have to win big events and play each other down the stretch. That hasn't happened yet. We've only played each other at the Honda down the stretch. We need a lot more of those type of battles, but in bigger events."
Woods' recovery from both personal scandal and physical injury gathered pace this season with three PGA Tour titles which took him past Jack Nicklaus' record haul of 73. It's now a case of onwards and upwards in 2013.
"Golf-wise, there's really no comparison between this year and last year," added the 14-time major winner. "Recording nine top-10 finishes in 19 starts shows my game is back on track.
"I don't really think about milestones like tournament earnings. I just think about winning tournaments. Looking ahead to next year, I'm just trying to win those big four tournaments [the majors]. I just need to win for a long period of time."
n The season may be over but Paul Lawrie is already relishing the prospect of a return to his happy hunting ground of Qatar in January. The 43-year-old won the Qatar Masters in 1999 and went on to the capture the Open later that year. In 2012, Lawrie again triumphed in the desert, a victory which aided his successful Ryder Cup qualifying campaign.
"I just like playing in Doha, it's 'linksy', it's windy, you've got to knock the ball down, you've got to think a wee bit more," he enthused. "It's not just stand up and give it a batter. You've got to shape the ball a wee bit, which is unusual these days. You don't have to do that very often, but Qatar's got that."