The Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson PPV match is set for Friday at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, and the affair is "being billed as equal parts entertainment and golf match," according to Dave Shedloski of GOLF DIGEST. In addition to the "promise of incessant banter and next-level trash talking," the "most intriguing wrinkle is certain to be the series of side bets that each will throw at the feet of the other, most times with little warning." Woods' agent Mark Steinberg said that each player is "limited to a handful of challenges, partly because of 'parameters' set by the PGA Tour." The broadcast of the match -- utilizing ShotLink in combination with information on the golf course -- will feature "real-time statistics to calculate the probable outcome of various strokes" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 11/15). Golf.com's Alan Shipnuck as part of a roundtable discussion with THE ATHLETIC said the match will be a "good show." Woods and Mickelson have both "invested a lot of capital in this -- not actual money, but their time (which is just as valuable) and the power of their brands." Shadow Creek is a "fascinating venue that will look great on TV and with very high production values and some new tech (real-time betting!)," it should be "fun to watch" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/19). USA TODAY's Christine Brennan noted Woods, Mickelson and their caddies "will be wearing microphones throughout the match." If this was the final round of The Masters or the U.S. Open, fans "would be hanging on their every word." However, this being a "made-for-TV spectacle that means absolutely nothing, it’s natural to wonder if the dialogue will be entirely spontaneous" (USA TODAY, 11/15).
GOLF WORLD WEIGHS IN: The AP's Doug Ferguson as part of THE ATHLETIC roundtable said, "You can’t stage big moments in golf. You relish them when they happen for real." CBS Sports' Kyle Porter: "The way all of this has been rolled out has felt a little … forced." Golfweek's Geoff Shackelford: "It’s a smart time to give sports fans a fun alternative." Woods and Mickelson are "still compelling, even though their lackluster Ryder Cup performances took a bit of wind out of The Match’s sails." There is "something fun about silly season golf viewing around the holidays that needs to be recaptured." ESPN.com's Kevin Van Valkenburg: "I’m a sucker for anything that might be good theater." With Mickelson involved, the "potential for jaw-dropping absurdity (both good and bad) is considerably high" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/19). Golf.com's Luke Kerr-Dineen wrote golf fans "will be surprised by how many bored, casual sports fans are going to pay a nominal fee to spend their Thanksgiving breaks watching (more) sports." Golf.com's Dylan Dethier wrote, "Everyone is sleeping on this thing now!" Now that this is "closer to being a reality, golf fans won’t want to miss it." Dethier: "I'm predicting modest numbers but a big success" (GOLF.com, 11/19).
TEN YEARS GONE: Golfer Rory McIlroy said that he would not be watching the match, adding that it "might have been worth it 15 years ago, but that now it has 'missed the mark a little bit.'" The AP's Ferguson wrote Woods and Mickelson "remain the two biggest names in golf even in this tidal wave of youth, but their one-sided rivalry ... has been dormant for five years." This "feels old, and the relentless promotion at times has made it feel contrived" (AP, 11/20). In Palm Springs, Larry Bohannan writes this "might have been a lot more entertaining if it had happened 10 years ago when both golfers were younger and winning major championships and had a reasonably healthy dislike for each other" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 11/21). SPORTSNET.ca's Damien Cox wrote under the header, "Why Tiger Woods Vs. Phil Mickelson Match Is Still Proving A Tough Sell" (SPORTSNET.ca, 11/20). However, SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote the blowback against the match is "silly." This match is "not about growing the game," and it "won't detract from anything meaningful in golf." It is a "piece of entertainment designed to please customers and make money for the people producing it, just as most pieces of entertainment are" (SI.com, 11/20).
IN IT TO WIN IT: Woods last week appeared on TNT's "Inside The NBA" and Shaquille O'Neal asked, "During the match I know you guys are going to be talking smack and having fun, but at what point in the tournament are you guys going to turn it up and get into that Tiger professional mode to try to win this thing?" Woods replied, "This is a match that we're entertaining, we're having fun. But there comes a point in time ... when you get locked in and then you're trying to stuff it" ("Inside The NBA," TNT, 11/15). The ACTION NETWORK's Jason Sobel wrote the "biggest takeaway" in the lead-up to the match is that "each of them seems to be relishing the opportunity to beat the other one" (ACTIONNETWORK.com, 11/14).