There few golfers who move the needle like Tiger Woods. You could throw Phil Mickelson into that discussion to an extent if he is in the hunt on a Sunday because he is a fan favorite, or if he decides to break the rules by deflecting a ball in a fit of rage during the U.S. Open, but still, he is no Tiger in terms of viewership.
Tiger has transcended the sport and brought in viewers that are not only casual golfers, but also those who just want to watch one of the best to ever play the game. People will complain about the coverage Woods is getting now that he’s returned to the PGA Tour because he hasn’t won in a decade, but he’s actually been competitive this season and that’s been great for the sport.
And now, NOW we get to the fun stuff that was once mentioned as a possibility, a high-stakes game between the two legends.
As we posted this morning, Tiger and Phil are both apparently very close to agreeing to a match-play event on network TV with a purse of around $10 million. Sure, that’s chump change for these two, but it’s more than enough for both to be just a little uncomfortable with losing.
At the Players Championship, Phil had this to say about the possibility of a duel between the two:
"“The excitement that’s been going on around here, it gets me thinking: Why don’t we just bypass all the ancillary stuff of a tournament and just go head-to-head and just have kind of a high-stakes, winner-take-all match. Now, I don’t know if he wants a piece of me, but I just think it would be something that would be really fun for us to do, and I think there would be a lot of interest in it if we just went straight to the final round.”"
Woods was more than willing to play along:
"“I’m definitely not against that. We’ll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable.”"
Those bragging rights would go a long way for Phil, should he win because it’s hard to imagine him not mentioning it to some extent in press conferences for the rest of his career.
Phil, “Remember that time I beat Tiger in a high-stakes match-play game?”
Of course, we would.
Why? Well, Phil said it best:
"“The tough thing is that he has the trump card: his career record. OK?” Mickelson says. “Whether it’s 14 majors, 79 wins, however many players of the year awards, FedEx Cups, the whole deal. He owns all the trump cards. So I have to be very careful and strategic in my smack talk, because if I lay something down, in comes a trump card, you know, and then shuts me right up.”"
The bigger question is where would this event be hosted?
For now, the initial talks suggest the event will be held at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but there are plenty of courses that aren’t on the regular PGA Tour rotation that could play host. Bandon Dunes, Streamsong, Seminole Golf Club, National Golf Links, Pine Valley Golf Club, Chicago Golf Club, or literally any other course as the possibilities for something like this are endless.
This is still just a very vision the two share, but Mickelson says that he and Woods hope to play a couple of exhibitions around the world every year. As Alan Shipnuck, who first reported the talks suggests, the two could even pair up against a few other guys like Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed or Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.
So, whether you hate Tiger or hate Phil, frankly, I fail to see how any of this would be bad for golf and personally, I would enjoy watching every one of these, so bring it on!