Two of the biggest names in golf will square off on Thanksgiving weekend when “The Match” takes place between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are playing a winner-take-all, pay-per-view exhibition in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend, for $9 million. I was against it until I heard both have agreed to donate the entire winner’s check to charity. And that each is putting up $9 mil of his own money.
Wait, what? That’s not true? Any of it?
Well whatever, never mind.
In reading all the news/hype stories that have accompanied this naked-greed grab – “fun’’ and “different’’ and “something that’s never been done before’’– a few words never came up.
So let’s be honest here. This isn’t golf. It’s vaudeville. It’s an exhibition hosted by a couple middle-aged players, ruined finery essentially, seeking a means to make a lot of money for doing almost nothing.
Excuse me. That’s not right. Phil says it’s a way to “bypass all the ancillary stuff of a tournament and just go to a head-to-head.”
Of course. Why bother making a cut or contending on Sunday or, you know, actually winning an event when you can scrap all that ancillary stuff and get right to the making-millions part?
Money for nothing. Chipshots for free.
Originally, the payout was going to be $10 million, but the PGA objected. It didn’t want a phony-baloney exhibition paying the same money the Tour pays the winner of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
So, a mere $9 million.
At least now we know why Tiger and Phil have pretended to be buds recently (practice rounds together at the Masters and Firestone) and why Mickelson just last week decided to create a Twitter account.
Soon enough, each will be hurling pseudo insults at the other, hoping to pump the pay-per-view:
“Your argyle socks are a joke!’’
“I could beat you with Old Tom Morris’ niblick and spoon!”
“You’re… you’re… a Democrat!’’
Fact is, they could take or leave one another if they weren’t suddenly partners in flim-flammery. And as much as we tried to create a rivalry between them, there never was one. Tiger owned Phil. They both knew it. Woods: 79 Tour wins, 14 major titles; Phil, 43 and five.
For the record, Woods net worth rested at $740 million at the end of 2016, according to Forbes. Mickelson checked in at a hand-to-mouth $375 million. In 2016 alone, Mickelson pulled in $50 million from endorsements. Phil – mouthpiece for Callaway, Barclays, KPMG, Exxon Mobil, Rolex and Amgen – is more corporate than a repp tie. Meantime, maybe Tiger can roll in to Vegas in one of those Buicks he liked so much. Young Tiger Woods, in a Buick. Right.
It’s easy to see why neither guy is anxious to part with a few dimes for charity.
We don’t know yet how much will be charged the average fan to clog the pockets of Tiger or Phil – one report has it at $24.99 – but Tiger assured us it’ll all be fine.
“I think they can afford it,’’ decided Woods, whose early career included a broad reputation for stiffing restaurant servers. “You know, how many times have we all purchased fights, whether it’s MMA or boxing, whatever it may be?’’
In this corner, zero. Zero times.
The difference is, MMA and prize fights are legitimate forms of competition. Something is on the line. In this thing, you either make $9 mil or leave on the $740 million horse you rode in on.
As a very little kid, I watched bits of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf on NBC on Saturday afternoons. It showcased greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead, playing a match. Golf really is good at producing head-to-head drama. The difference then was, nobody was paying to watch it on his Philco “TV set’’ at home. And the participants weren’t making more in a day than Harry Hacker makes in a lifetime.
The prototype for this Thanksgiving weekend turkey was the Showdown at Sherwood in 1999. It featured Woods and David Duval in primetime on ABC. The winner got $1.1 million, the loser $400,000. Woods and Duvall each agreed to donate $200,000 to charity.
This ain’t that.
Phil likes to gamble. Why shouldn’t his bookie or his Guy or whoever arrive at the course with a briefcase full of Grover Clevelands? Woods could offer up the pink slip to his yacht. I’d pay to see that.
Failing that, the Octagon would do.