No matter how this week’s BMW Championship ends, it will start with a nice bit of history.
When Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler begin their round at 11:53 a.m. Thursday on the 10th tee at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, it will be the first time the three young superstars of golf will be paired together in a PGA Tour event.
“We’re going to have a blast the next two days,’’ Fowler said Wednesday. “The three of us really enjoy playing together. Our caddies are all good friends. It would be fun if we can kind of build some momentum and get the three of us playing well. There won’t be any shortage of smiles and laughs.’’
When Tiger and Phil ruled, even though they were polite about it publicly, their rivalry had all the love of a Packers-Bears teeth gnashing.
When Spieth, who’s No. 2 in the world, and Day, who’s No. 3, were dueling on the final day of the PGA championship at Whistling Straits last month, they were feeding off of each other.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,’’ Spieth told Day after the Aussie nailed a 382-yard drive on No. 11. Day responded by flexing his biceps.
Even if there was a major on the line, they were just two guys having fun on the golf course.
Fowler–who’s No. 5 and coming off a win in the previous FedEx Cup event, the Deutsche Bank on top of wins at the Players Championship and the Scottish Open–will add to the bravado of this 20-something trio.
After Spieth won the Masters and the U.S. Open, he pretty much cemented player-of-the-year honors. But Day, 27, who won the FedEx-opening Barclay’s on top of his PGA title, and Fowler, 26, are giving Spieth, 22, some serious elbows as the golf season winds down.
That trio and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, 26, who willl go off on No. 10 at 12:59 p.m., give golf, which used to put more credence in experience, a decidedly youthful look.
“To have four of the top five in the world 27 or younger is really cool,’’ Spieth said. “[Day and Fowler] are good buddies. I’m friends with both of them. I’m obviously comfortable playing with Jason now that I’ve played with him so much in the last couple of months. Bringing Rickie in will just add another element.’’
There’s likely to be some needling about the President’s Cup, which will find Day on the World team opposite Americans Fowler and Spieth in early October. But the Tour championship in Atlanta next week will be on the front burner.
“There may be some President’s Cup talk,’’ Day said. “I think we’re all going to focus on playing well and getting ourselves into contention. It just goes to show where golf is right now—how young it is. With myself, Jordan and Rickie, that’s a pretty good group, especially with how Rickie has played.’’
For all the anticipation of the Young Guns, keep in mind that Zach Johnson won the last BMW here two years ago after Jim Furyk fired a second-round 59. In other words, Conway favored steady short-game masters—which would seem to tip the scales toward the relentless Spieth, who hasn’t played well lately.
At Conway, long won’t matter if it’s not straight, too.
“There’s a premium in hitting fairways here,’’ Fowler said. “When you look at guys like Furyk and Zach, they hit a lot of fairways. They may not be considered guys that hit it long, but they hit it long enough. You can’t play out of the rough here and expect to score.’’
Then again, no one is better at combining straight and long when he’s on his game than McIlroy, who’s capable of salvaging some things from an injury-diminished season.
In other words, the spotlight will be on golf’s young guys at this BMW for good reason. They’re awfully good.
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