Arts

Games: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy set to face-off on virtual links

Top NI golfer Rory McIlroy will soon be back on the virtual links
Neil McGreevy

Golf is back on next gen consoles

A BRILLIANT putter but not such a great driver, Tiger Woods' vehicular troubles cost the sport's poster boy more than his reputation. Dropped by Gillette after some close shaves behind the wheel, games giant EA also nixed Woods as the face of their PGA Tour series after 16 games gracing the box – a deal which netted the ailing linksman around $7 million per year at its height. Perhaps they were worried the game would keep crashing.

Holywood scamp Rory McIlroy was the benefactor, though: in 2015, he of the affected accent took over as cover star. Alas, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour didn't fare well, landing the series in a bunker it hasn't recovered from since.

After going years without a PGA Tour golf videogame, armchair pros will be soiling their ridiculous slacks at news the franchise has been given a gimme with the next-gen EA Sports PGA Tour.

Not only that, there's a rival license looming in the clubhouse.

EA Sports PGA Tour, developed by EA Tiburon – the team behind their Madden series – is being built using the Frostbite engine, and will include the professional game's most famous courses and biggest names.

EA Sports chief Cam Weber said: "Our team of passionate golf fans is meticulously recreating the world's top courses such as Pebble Beach, and we can't wait to give fans the opportunity to compete on some of the most iconic PGA Tour courses and win the FedExCup."

No venues, golfers or a release date were revealed for PGA Tour, with more details set to be announced in the coming months.

Also this week, rival publisher 2K proudly announced they had got Woods, inking a long-term deal with Tiger as the face, executive director and consultant for their PGA Tour 2K franchise.

The previous game, PGA 2K21, boasted a decent roster of real-life golfers but, bizarrely, you couldn't actually control any of them. With Tiger in the bag, their next game looks set to come out swinging against EA's effort, which will forge ahead sans Woods.

It's a safe bet EA's offering will be the most luxurious, if they can avoid the bogey of microtransactions: Rory's game was stripped of the content and once-trademark EA polish that typified the series' glory days, with full-fat features held behind money-grabbing DLC. This practice has also soured their FIFA series of late.

Here's hoping they don't add a golfing version of their Ultimate Team mechanics to PGA – though it'd be funny watching YouTubers pretend to lose their mind over a gold Ian Poulter.

To be fair, the 2K Sports games aren't immune from this practice, either.

Still, this week's news is reason to celebrate – golf has been a videogame mainstay since the late 70s, and we'll soon be able to hit the digital links again in a world with some healthy competition.

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