Woods and Mickelson See the Future With ‘The Match’

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Tiger Woods - Phil Mickelson - The Match

Golf is trying something new with a unique match play event between two legendary golfers, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

The pair has 19 major championships between them, with Woods winning 14, but this event is moving beyond network TV and traditional four-day stroke play tournaments to a one-day, winner-take-all $9 million match at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.

At a press conference earlier in the week, Mickelson said the event is an effort to try some new techniques to draw in new viewers and keep the game of golf exciting.

“This event is designed to be a unique experience for a golf viewer and to have an insight into what goes on with players,” Mickelson said. “It’s an experience that is totally unique and different. Hopefully, viewers appreciate that. It’s not for everyone, but it’s going to be something different you haven’t had before.

“This is very different than anything golf has done before and we hope to showcase our sport in a different light.”

The telecast will include a pre-match show with Charles Barkley and Samuel L. Jackson as commentators, along with PGA Tour player Pat Perez. Venerable announcer Ernie Johnson will also be in the broadcast booth.

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No commercials will allow the viewers an inside look at the game of golf. Both Mickelson and Woods and their caddies will be mic’d up for the broadcast.

“For me, it’s the player interaction, but also the caddie-player interaction the fans aren’t normally privy to,” Woods said. “Things [caddie Joe LaCava] and I talk about going from tee box to fairway, where the flag is, what I’m thinking about.

“That’s something fans will enjoy, [but also] the little side things. The people who know me, played against me, the little side comments I make under my breath, just within earshot so only the player would know.”

Mickelson said he’s excited viewers will get to see what will virtually be a Tuesday practice round, but with the added significant stake to make the match uncomfortable. Without the history of major championships, Mickelson said the purse had to be as high as it is to ensure the added pressure and intensity would be there.

The two players will also be able to make side bets throughout the event, coming from their own pockets, which will then go to charity. Mickelson already set the first side actions, betting $100,000 he’d birdie the first hole. Woods quickly doubled the bet.

The telecast will also include drone coverage, on-screen gambling options, and percentages of shot possibilities.

The matchup developed as both Mickelson and Woods had strong seasons this year, but it has roots going back more than 20 years.

“We’ve gone at it for over two decades and we’ve had our moments we’ve gone toe-to-toe,” Woods said. “I’ve always enjoyed knowing that I’m going against Phil and knew it’d be tough and he’d pull off shots and I’d have to figure out a way to get the job done.”

There has been talk this could be the first in a series of events or it could lead to other business ventures between Mickelson and Woods. They both admitted they’ve come far in their relationship, but for now this is all that’s on the table.

“We’re focusing on what we’re doing here,” Woods said. “Who knows what the future holds. Ask us that 10 years ago, and I think we would have given a different answer. Who knows, with our two acumens and what we like and don’t like and want to get into, you never know.”