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October 17, 2011

Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler: Golf's Next Great Rivalry?

Posted at 4:33 PM by Mike Walker | Categories: Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Walker Cup

When Rickie Fowler held off a charging Rory McIlroy to win the Korea Open this month, he added another chapter to a rivalry that has the potential to define the game over the next decade. Though both players are just 22 years old, they have a surprisingly rich history in competition together. Let's take a look...

1. 2007 Walker Cup

Fowler draws first blood, beating McIlroy in team play on the Irishman's home turf at Royal County Down. Team USA holds on to beat Great Britian and Ireland, 12.5 to 11.5.

Advantage: Fowler

Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlory on the final day of the 2007 Walker Cup. PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

Jamie Lovemark, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschell at the 2007 Walker Cup. David Cannon/Getty Images

2. 2010 Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy helps Europe win the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales with a 2-0-2 record. However, Fowler (0-1-2) turns heads by making four birdies in his last four holes to halve his singles match with Edoardo Molinari.

Advantage: McIlroy

Rory McIlroy celebrates at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales. Photo: Angus Murray

Rickie Fowler at the Ryder Cup after halving his singles match with Edoardo Molinari. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

3. 2010 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award

On the strength of his eight top-10 finishes, Fowler wins the 2010 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award over McIlroy despite McIlroy's win at Quail Hollow and third-place finishes at the British Open and the PGA Championship. "Friend of Rory" Lee Westwood calls the award -- which is voted by PGA Tour players -- "protectionist" and hints that McIlroy was snubbed as payback for his decision not to renew tour membership in 2011.

Advantage: Fowler

Rickie Fowler's most impressive finish in 2010 was second at Memorial. REUTERS

4. 2011 U.S. Open

McIlroy claims the title of the world's best young player with an eight-stroke victory at the U.S. Open at Congressional. Fowler misses the cut.

Big Advantage: McIlroy

McIlroy celebrates his U.S. Open win with his father, Gerry. AP Photo/Larry French

5. 2011 British Open

Paired together in nasty conditions on Saturday at Royal St. Georges, Fowler shoots himself into contention with a 68, while McIlroy shoots 73 and afterward tells reporters that he doesn't like playing in the rain. Fowler finishes T5; McIlroy T25.

Advantage: Fowler

Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler share a laugh at the 2011 British Open. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

6. 2011 Korea Open

Fowler holds off a Sunday charge by McIlroy to nab his first professional victory. Afterward, Fowler tells Golfweek that beating McIlroy made the win even more special. "He's beaten me, I've beaten him before, but to win a golf tournament and beat him was different. It was cool."

Advantage: Fowler

Rickie Fowler celebrates his first professional win at the Korea Open. AP Photo

This story originally appeared in the Golf Magazine Front9 App. To download the weekly app, visit the Apple iTunes store.


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