There’s an old saying in sports that states “competition breeds success”. In my opinion, not much can be said to argue that point. It’s a staple in the philosophies of many coaches and rightfully so. Competition has a funny way of bringing out the best in its participants. As fans, there’s nothing we love more than watching two opposing forces clash. From the energy of the fans to the emotions of the players, we live to see it all play out. But what happens when competition takes a step forward and reaches the next level? When a game or match goes just a little bit further than being “just a game”. What happens when competition gets personal? To best answer that question we need to look at a few examples. Red Sox and Yankees, Michigan and Ohio State, Nicholas, Palmer and Player. There’s one thing the teams and players of the above example have in common – they’re rivals. When it comes to competition you simply can’t get one without the other.
Golf has been struggling to find its next set of rivals, largely due to the nature of the game. They seem to come in waves that are few and far between. Perhaps this is why as fans, we stretch our definition of a rivalry in golf. But who can blame us – fans have been missing the great Sunday show-downs of Tiger and Phil in their prime. True fans of the game are sucked into the drama of a duel between battling golfers where one wrong swing can make or break their chance to be a champion. Will those weekly battles ever return? Some say no – but perhaps there’s hope.
If you watched last weeks Dell Technologies Championship, you would have watched as Justin Thomas held off 3-time major winner Jordan Spieth to reach his fifth victory of the 2016-‘17 season. What you may not know is that Thomas and Spieth have done this more than a few times. Thomas and Spieth first met face to face on the course when they were just 13 years old at the Junior All-Star event at Walnut Creek Country Club. Spieth would go on to take the hardware. 5 years later the two would meet again, this time at the 2012 NCAA Championship in Riviera. Spieth and his Texan Longhorns defeated the Crimson Tide and Thomas to take the title. However, if there is one thing Thomas has learned since turning pro is 2013 its patients. On Monday, it was Thomas’ turn to crowned champion.
Although the two are friends off the course, the golf world can’t help but hope that this the beginning of a new chapter in golf’s great rivalries.