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Volume 26 No. 5
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Mickelson-Woods Match Panned For Lack Of Banter, Below-Average Play

Pundits felt Woods seemed overly aware that he was mic’d for sound during the round
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods in 22 holes in Las Vegas on Friday, and though "The Match" had been "hyped as a clash between two of golf’s all-time greats," at times it looked "more like a lazy round between friends," according to Jacob Bogage of the WASHINGTON POST (11/24). GOLF.com's Alan Shipnuck wrote the "fundamental problem" was that it was "sold as spectacle but in the end turned out to be just two golfers playing golf" (GOLF.com, 11/24). ESPN.com's Bob Harig wrote there was some "decent banter between Woods and Mickelson, but it was nowhere near the needling that we were led to believe would occur." As the match wore on, both players "reverted to the grinding mode that has served them well for the past two-plus decades" (ESPN.com, 11/23). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard wrote what was "billed as the ultimate 'smack down' turned into a grind, with both players slipping into familiar competitive patterns as the match progressed" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 11/23). In Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski wrote the golf "wasn’t scintillating, and neither for that matter was the banter" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 11/24).

THE REVIEWS ARE IN: In California, Larry Bohannan wrote even if those who "supported the idea of The Match came away disappointed, the event delivered what it promised." It "never promised stellar golf, just golf between two guys who have produced stellar golf at times in their careers." Three of the four playoff holes were played on a converted 93-yard Par 3, and it was "fitting it ended on a contrived hole, because the entire event was contrived" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 11/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote under the header, "Tiger Vs. Phil Was Worse Than Caddyshack 2." There were times this "got so dull you looked forward to the next Capital One advertisement to break the monotony." Viewers got to "listen to Mickelson huff, puff and wheeze while climbing inclines." To even it out, Woods "spent most of the day grunting into the mic in frustration" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/23). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Ryan Lavner wrote this "first clash of the titans was clumsy." Viewers were "treated to some lackluster play and a broadcast that was alternately cringe-worthy and suspenseful." Both Woods and Mickelson "seemed overly aware that they were mic’d for sound." The game’s "preeminent needlers were so tame that this match could have been shown on PBS." In fact, they almost "seemed as if they ran out of things to say by the time they walked up the first fairway" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 11/23).

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: GOLF DIGEST's Dave Shedloski wrote the "real question going forward" is whether or not the event "won over the skeptics." The numbers, not yet released, "are everything." But Turner President David Levy said his company was "very encouraged." The viewership figures will "determine whether this experiment that mixed golf, the burgeoning business of sports gambling, the spectacle of Vegas and the use of multiple distribution platforms has a future." The answer to whether or not there should be a sequel is "obvious because, again, the encouraging numbers Levy referred to say there probably will be one." But it "says a lot, and not good, when the HBO 24/7 program and the promotional trailers were vastly more intriguing than the 22-hole golf exhibition" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 11/24). GOLFWEEK's Martin Kaufmann wrote he is "not optimistic that we'll see similar pay-per-view events" in the future. But if there are, organizers will "need to put a lot more thought into how to present them so that fans and sponsors feel as though they are getting their money's worth" (GOLFWEEK.com, 11/25). NBC Sports Bay Area's Laura Britt said golf fans "might see more" matches like this, as "you've got to bring golf into the new age, and this might be the way that people do it." But she added, "I don't know how much of a success it was, and it felt a little long" ("The Happy Hour," NBC Sports Bay Area, 11/23). ABC's Adrienne Bankert said there could be future matches, as they are "appealing to people who are younger" and might "get more interest in the game" ("GMA," ABC, 11/24).