- Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are setting up a $10 million match-play competition between themselves.
- Neither is at their peak anymore.
- Who should be favored heading into the lucrative showcase, given their head-to-head history and match-play records?
Unbeknownst to most of the world, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been trying to set up a $10 million match-play event. It’s an exclusive event and there’s only one way to get an invite: be named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.
Originally aiming for a July 3rd date, the pair couldn’t work out all the details in time. But they’re still trying to make it happen because, even to the two highest career earners in golf, $10 million is a lot of money.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of money … No matter how much money you have, this amount will take both of us out of our comfort zone.” — Phil Mickelson, per golf.com.
Obviously, neither golfer is anywhere near his prime anymore. Despite a stronger-than-expected comeback this year, Tiger hasn’t won a tournament since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Mickelson’s triumph at the 2018 WGC-Mexico in March was his first PGA win since 2013. He failed to record one top-five finish in 22 events in 2017.
Here’s how he stacks up against comeback-era Tiger lately.
Phil Mickelson vs Tiger Woods: Recent Results
|PHIL MICKELSON’S FINISH||SCORE||TOURNAMENT||SCORE||TIGER WOODS’ FINISH|
|33(T)||-5||Greenbrier (July 5)||—||DNP|
|DNP||—||Quicken Loans (June 28)||-4||4(T)|
|48(T)||+16||US Open (June 14)||+10||MISSED CUT|
|12(T)||-6||St. Jude Classic (June 7)||—||DNP|
|13(T)||-10||The Memorial (May 31)||-9||23(T)|
|MISSED CUT||+8||THE PLAYERS (May 10)||-11||11(T)|
|5(T)||-7||Wells Fargo (May 3)||+2||55(T)|
As you can see, both have played well at times this year, showing flashes of their former selves. Mostly, though, it’s been disappointment.
Woods got the better of Lefty the last time they were paired together in a stroke-play event, the 2018 PLAYERS. Woods was -1 through their 36 holes together, while Phil was +8 and missed the cut, done in by a first-round 79.
Prior to their two rounds together at THE PLAYERS, however, it had been a neck and neck battle when paired together in stroke-play, contrary to the popular narrative, which is that Mickelson crumbles when he plays with Tiger: “in the 35 times Woods and Mickelson have played together, whether in a pairing or threesome, Woods holds the all-time edge over Mickelson 16-15-4. Woods also has the better scoring average; his 69.60 edges Mickelson’s 69.91,” notes Josh Berhow of Golf.com.
But this showcase is going to be matchplay, and that’s one realm where Woods has outshone Mickelson, but again, not by much.
Woods is 4-1-2 in singles at the Ryder Cup, versus a respectable 8-5-1 for Mickelson. At the Presidents Cup, Woods is 7-2 in singles, while Phil is just 4-6-3.
Mickelson has more recent matchplay results on his resume, but they’re mediocre. After falling in the quarterfinals at the 2017 WGC Match Play championship, he failed to advance past the round-robin stage at the 2018 edition. He’s still yet to win the PGA’s annual match-play tournament, or even reach the finals, whereas Woods holds the record for most titles with three (2003, 2004, 2008) and also finished as the runner-up in 2000.
Even in his diminished state, Woods would enter a head-to-head match-play battle with Mickelson as the favorite.
Tiger Woods vs Phil Mickelson: Match Play Odds
|PLAYER||ODDS TO WIN $10M MATCH-PLAY EVENT|
It’s tough to set exact odds without knowing the course. But assuming they agree to a course which doesn’t significantly favor either golfer, Woods gets the edge.
He’s been good enough in his 2018 comeback to convince us that his steely match-play resolve will bubble to the surface when it matters most.
Tiger Woods vs Phil Mickelson: Match Play Props
|PROPOSITION||ODDS TO WIN $10M MATCH-PLAY EVENT|
|Odds the $10M match-play event happens||1/2|
|$10M match-play event spread/handicap||Tiger Woods -1.5 holes|
|Odds of a hole-in-one||399/1|
|Odds either player incurs a penalty||25/1|
|O/U largest bet on either player in Las Vegas||$49,999|
As Phil said, $10 million is a ludicrous amount of money. And for a pair of guys who are used to pocketing that kind of cash, but haven’t hit the jackpot in a while, it should be enough to see this event come to pass.
Mickelson is probably too proud to take on a handicap, but giving him a hole and a half seems fair given Tiger’s rich (no pun intended) match-play history.
By popular demand, we’ve added the following propositions and odds for the still-rumored, made-for-TV battle.
Location of the $10M Match-Play Event
|STATE||ODDS TO HOST THE $10M MATCH-PLAY EVENT|
Back when this was planned for early July, Shadow Creek in Las Vegas was going to be the course. There’s a great chance that the high-stakes round still finds a home in America’s gambling mecca.
Given that likelihood that it takes place in the fall (more on this below) other warm states round out the list. Hawai’i might make an abundance of sense, depending on when organizers want the event to air in the lower 48.
Date of the $10M Match-Play Event
|STATE||ODDS TO HOST THE $10M MATCH-PLAY EVENT|
There are few breaks in the PGA schedule. The 2017-18 season ends on September 23, and the 2018-19 season starts 2.5 weeks later.
There’s a decent window between Nov. 19 and Jan. 7. Adding to the gluttony of Thanksgiving is plausible. The longer they wait, though, the more likely Tiger’s bionic back needs to go in for repairs.
Tiger and Phil’s Shirt Color at the Event
|PHIL MICKELSON||ODDS||ODDS||TIGER WOODS|
It would technically be the “last round” of the event, but would Tiger still wear red if it takes place on a Saturday?
|NETWORK/SERVICE||ODDS TO BROADCAST THE $10M MATCH-PLAY EVENT|
ABC has a history with this sort of event, broadcasting the Monday Night Golf series in the late 90s and early aughts, and ESPN is unceasing in its quest for a sports monopoly.
|GOLFER/CELEBRITY||ODDS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE EVENT’S “UNDERCARD”|
Even with the sport’s two most popular players and $10 million on the line, golf is too slow a sport to have only two golfers playing in a made-for-TV event. There will inevitably be other matches teeing off beforehand, whether they include more PGA pros or celebs.
The obvious choices are McIlroy — the third-most recognizable face on tour — and match-play cavant Patrick Reed. The pair went head-to-head in an epic 2016 Ryder Cup duel that legions of fans would love to see recreated.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.