Match Is November 23
The Match of the Century will be held will be held November 23, 2018 at the Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas. Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, arguably the two best players of their generation are playing for a $9 million prize. For comparison, the prize money for the Open Championship- distributed between 156 players- is just $250,000 more.
An old concept
The idea of a made-for-television match between two top golfers is nothing new.
Starting in 1961, Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf featured top players competing on some of the world’s best courses, including the legendary Pine Valley Golf Club. That series ran until 1970, then returned for a nine year run from 11994 to 2003. Contests included Arnold Palmer playing Jack Nicklaus for $150,000 and Greg Norman taking on Nick Faldo.
The four-man Skins Game on the PGA Tour took place every year from 1983 to 2008 after the official season closed (known as the “Silly Season” for the unofficial events). In 2001, Norman won $1 million against Woods, Jesper Parnevick, and Colin Montgomerie. In 11 overall appearances, Fred Couples won $3.5 million, gaining the unofficial title of King of the Silly Season.
Tiger Woods took part in a U.S.-based annual knockout called Monday Night Golf, which ran from 1999 to 2005. The first contest was held at California’s Sherwood Country Club and saw the world’s best two players at the time- David Duvai and Woods- face off. Woods was the winner for that one, picking up a $1,100,000 check in the process. Duval didn’t do too badly, either, walking away with $400,000. The following year saw Woods defeated by Sergio Garcia before the format was changed to a two-part event. The first part saw a mixed contest involving Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstram. The second part saw a challenge between different generations featuring Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus.
In 2012, Rory Mcllroy defeated Woods in the Duel at Lake Jinsha, a $3 million contest in China. That one was significant as golf made its first foray into pay-per-view TV.
The common theme was clearly cash. If it was golf that truly mattered here, it wouldn’t be about Woods and Mickelson. It would see the world’s highest-ranked player Dustin Johnson take on the world No 2 Justin Thomas. But then, this isn’t about golf.
While sports stars have never been shy when it comes to money-making opportunities, let’s face it: they’re just a reflection of every one of us. The difference is that the likes of Woods and Mickelson don’t need the money. We have our day jobs, of course, but when it comes to big paydays, that doesn’t quite cut it. We don’t have TV channels asking to show us doing our jobs on air. So many have taken to looking at other methods, such as the financial markets. While there’s a lot of money to be made in trading, it’s a steep learning curve and huge losses can occur overnight. Others try their hand at casino games. Players had to go out in the old days and before the shift to online casinos. These days, there’s no need to get dressed up and the experience is becoming more and more realistic. With live dealers at online casinos, it’s almost like being there. They deal the cards and roll the dice just like real-life croupiers. It may not be as thrilling as an actual casino, but it’s getting closer.
Past differences aside
Mickelson and Woods may have won a combined 19 Majors but they are no longer dominant players in the game. As arch-rivals and uneasy Ryder Cup teammates, however, they have the kind of history that has dollar signs written all over it. They had a rocky relationship for much of their careers. Diminishing skills, along with time itself, however, have put their troubles on ice. They even played a practice round prior to the 2018 Masters. That set the tone for the upcoming venture. The following month saw them team up for the Players’ Championship’s first two rounds. That’s where Mickelson first revealed the possibility of the cash game.
Look for the match November 23, 2018 on pay-per-view. As of this writing, Woods is listed as the frontrunner, at -170 on many online sites.