High Expectations for the Match
Expectations were high going into the Thanksgiving Weekend match between long-time rivals Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Some expectations were met, but some fell short. Tiger and Phil began their match at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas at 3PM. It finally ended after Phil birdied the 4th playoff hole at 8PM! Arguably, one of the most exciting things about The Match was the race against the setting sun.
Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada
There had been a lot of hype leading up to Friday’s match. Both players planned to wear mics while they played. The banter and trash talk between the two players was sure going to keep things interesting. There wasn't a whole lot of chatter aside from a lot of heavy breathing, especially from Phil. Both players must have been feeling the pressure with $9 million on the line. However, viewers were anticipating the old rivalry between Phil and Tiger to be a little more exciting. Besides some brief moments of small talk, the two didn’t seem to have a lot to say to each other during the first few holes. Finally, on the back nine, we saw a bit more of that old rivalry come into play.
Phil and Tiger face-off during a press conference for The Match
Viewers hoped side-betting would shut down these awkward silences. The players had bet $200,000 during an earlier press conference that Mickelson would make birdie on the first hole. Viewers anticipated several more bets to keep things interesting. The players had said that any winnings from the side bets would be donated directly to charity, and fans loved this idea. While the players did suggest eight bets total, the excitement over these was much lower than expected. Most of these bets ended up being closest-to-the-pin wagers, and the only 7-figure bet resulted in a push. In the end, Phil won $600,000 of Tiger’s money which will be donated directly to the Children of the 58 Fund, Las Vegas Shriners, and Phil’s own charity. Tiger only won $200,000 which he will also donate. In an event in which the purse is $9 million, an $800,000 donation barely seems like a drop in the bucket.
A beautiful fairway on Shadow Creek Golf Course
The score kept things interesting, even if the bets didn't. Neither golfer was ever up by more than one hole throughout the match. First, Phil was up, then Tiger, and back again. While this provided some more interest on the back nine, overall, the match seemed underwhelming. Tiger admitted that he hadn’t hit a good putt all day, and Charles Barkley added that it was “crappy golf”. Both players seemed to be finding it hard to finish each hole with a strong putt. The level of golf played left many people disappointed. The expectations were high for the two biggest names in golf to deliver their "A" game. However, they both seemed to let the pressure of the match take over their game.
Tiger and his caddie, Joe LaCava, at The Match
Finally, on the 4th playoff hole, when Tiger putted from 7 feet 8 inches, he came up short. This opened the door for Phil. From 4 feet, he made the putt and won the $9 million prize! Phil will now have a few more comebacks for Tiger when the two meet up again in the future. In the past, the two golfers have often made jabs at each other. Tiger has always had the upper hand based on championships won. However, this win will give Phil something to reference. The winner also received an Italian leather belt on top of the $9 million. Phil joked that everyone expected Tiger to win since the belt was too small for Phil. Poor Phil seemed visibly annoyed that he couldn't wear the belt.
Phil and Tiger at the 2012 PGA Tour
Many people were upset by the $9 million purse. These players are known to be two of the wealthiest golfers in the world. They don’t need an extra $9 million to entice them into this match. Many viewers called for them to play for more of their own money instead of a sponsorship designed to make the match “uncomfortable” for both players. Mostly, I think we’d all rather see this money go to a better cause than simply lining Phil and Tiger's pockets. Though the side betting money went to charity, it hardly seems relevant in light of the millions of dollars that were spent on this event. The winner-takes-all $9 million purse seemed extreme to many viewers. While it may have done its job to create a more tense atmosphere for the players, it created more controversy among fans.
Tiger and Phil pose near the stacks of money after Phil wins the $9 million purse