These are professional golfers, after all, independent contractors who compete as small corporations. They are not diplomats.
They play in the Ryder Cup for free, largely out of a sense of duty. They dress even worse than usual; uniformly so. Often, the lasting memories are of the failures.
Tiger, long ago, said that a lucrative event was more important to him than the Ryder Cup, for 1 million reasons. Tiger, long ago, contended that players should be paid, and handsomely, for playing the Ryder Cup.
But that was before the recent Ryder Cup boom, and before the breathless TV buildup and commentary, which golfers' sponsors love; and before the supercharged, super-rude crowds.
This year, thanks to fate and thanks to talent, the FedEx Cup is at least nearly as important as the Ryder Cup.
Rory vs. Tiger? For 10 million bucks? Ali-Frazier. Fight of the Century.
If Ryder Cup captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal have any sense of drama, they will cast the duo against each other in singles next week, and we will get a rematch.
"Of course, there are a lot of people that would like to see it," McIlroy said Wednesday. "It would be very exciting to be a part of."
The Ryder Cup does not need contrived pairings to spur interest. The Cup does.
Rory vs. Tiger is the only matchup that can drive interest, which, perhaps unfairly, is the seventh most important event in the game. The four majors, the Ryder Cup and even the ultra-competitive Players Championship carry greater weight.
Rory cannot do it alone. For the Cup to have gravity, Tiger has to be in it, and he has to be playing well. He validates it.
Tiger needs Rory, too. OK, he at least needs Phil. Mickelson remains incredibly popular, but, recently, Mickelson rarely is relevant. He is 42 and he is arthritic and he is on his way out.
Rory, meanwhile, is 23 and fearless; in fact, noted Tiger critic Greg Norman suggested that Rory now intimidates Tiger.
That is laughable, said Rory himself; but Rory knows that he really is the closest thing to Tiger since Tiger.
Rory is what David Duval and Mickelson hoped to be. He is what Sergio Garcia was supposed to be. In many respects, Rory is anti-Tiger: likeable, genuine, modest, European, and, frankly, white. All of those properties earn him points in certain circles.
In many other respects, Rory is Tiger-esque; otherworldly long off the tee, a sniper with his irons. He weilds Ginsu wedges and a buttery putter, and he is blunt enough to have once called the Ryder Cup an "exhibition."
Rory is cool; cool enough to make being Irish cool again, like it was in the 1990s; cool enough to ignore his golf game to pursue the world's cutest tennis star.
Rory also is good; good enough to be a single-name star. He won two majors in 15 months. He won the past two FedEx playoff tournaments. He stole Tiger's show all four times. He could do it again this weekend, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Certainly, that would help demystify the ever-evolving FedEx Cup.
Among the perennial confusions: Who qualifies? And how? So, it's a playoff . . . where 100 guys advance? Then 70? Then 30? And the guy who wins the finale might not collect the $10 million?
Playoffs?! Yes. Well, sort of.
At least this time, it resonates.
To its credit, the Tour Championship has provided compelling images:
* Jim Furyk, fists clenched, hat backward, triumphant in the rain in 2010. Furyk beat Luke Donald. Both showed off stunning wedge games. But Tiger was at home.
* Bill Haas last year, on the second playoff hole, one shoe off, splashing out of a greenside pond, water droplets sparkling in high definition, the most telegenic shot of the flat-screen era. Haas beat Hunter Mahan on the next hole. But Tiger was at home.
* Mickelson, in 2009, standing with the crystal Tour Championship trophy and staring at Tiger beside him; Tiger beaming, holding the actual FedEx Cup . . . which he secured with a second-place finish. Mickelson's perfect Sunday 65 helped solidify him among golf's all-time greats. Tiger lagged everything, protected his points lead and won the big one. What might have been the Cup's finest moment was lost to convoluted math and anticlimax.
The same might happen this weekend. Tiger and Rory might be irrelevant. But it also could be amazing.
Tiger and Rory played together Thursday. They will do the same Friday. It might even go deeper than them.
Mickelson snuck into the top five in FedEx Cup standings. He is fourth, behind Nick Watney and in front of Brandt Snedeker. A Mickelson win gives him the Cup.
What if it becomes a three-man race this weekend?
Will anybody even watch next week? Just joking.