Tiger Bets Phil $200,000 Mickelson Will Not Birdie First Hole of “The Match”
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are set to go head-to-head in a winner-take-all round of golf in Las Vegas the day after Thanksgiving. Whichever player wins the showdown will pocket a nice $9 million check for their efforts. As if those stakes weren’t already high enough, though Mickelson decided to up the ante a bit.
At a news conference prior to the event on Tuesday, Mickelson said that he has been trying to think of ways to spice up the event, which will be available on a pay-per-view basis on Friday. Mickelson said, “I feel like the first hole is a great hole for me. And I believe – in fact I’m willing to risk $100,000 that says I birdie the first hole. So that’s how good I feel heading into this match.”
Mickelson reportedly told Woods that he does not have to accept the bet, but Woods replied, “So you think you can make birdie on the first hole?” Mickelson shot back, “I know I’m going to make birdie on the first hole.” Woods responded, “Double it.”
So, unless this was all for show, it sounds as though $200,000 will be on the line for Mickelson off the very first tee on Friday in Vegas. The first hole is a 445-yard par 4.
The pair will get underway from Shadow Creek at 3:00pm ET. Woods, a 14-time major winner, is the heavy betting favorite. Woods is currently listed as a -200 favorite to win the match at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. If he can’t win the match outright, Mickelson is at least hoping to pocket some side cash along the way.
Woods and Mickelson were once bitter rivals, but their relationship has become more friendly over the last few years. Mickelson, who has won 5 majors over the course of his career, is 6 years older than the 42-year-old Woods.
Mickelson reflected on their careers during the aforementioned news conference, saying, “He came along and broke every single record I had. Junior records, college, U.S. amateur: I won one, he won three. At Shadow Creek, I shot the course record 61. A couple of years later, you shoot 60. But Friday you’ve got to do it simultaneously. You can’t come along and do it later. It’s my chance after losing so many tournaments to you, so many majors, to get something back.”
The event has been in the works for months before it was finally confirmed for the day after Thanksgiving. Mickelson, who was clearly in good spirits during the press gathering, added, “This is a unique opportunity to do something that I’ve had a had time doing, which is to get a leg up on Tiger even if it’s just one day. It’s great to win the $9 million, but I just don’t want to lose to him. The bragging rights are the thing. I want to be able to rub it in; I don’t want it to be rubbed in. I want to sit in the champions locker room at Augusta and talk smack.”
Woods, who has been severely limited over the last several years due to a variety of injuries, most notably back issues, recently finished a successful comeback season. He failed to win any of the 4 major tournaments, but he did win the Tour Championship in September. That marked Woods’ 80th PGA Tour title, and he went from being ranked 656th in the world at the beginning of the year all the way up to 13th by the end of the season. Mickelson is currently ranked No. 27 in the world after starting the year ranked 37th.
Woods represented the United States at the Ryder Cup before taking several weeks off. He said he “shut it down for three or four weeks” after the Ryder Cup. Woods added, “I’ve been getting back practicing and playing and grinding and playing golf again. It’s been fun. Gets my juices flowing again.”
The loser of the match will not receive any money, and the money wagered on the side bets will come out of the players’ own pockets. That money will reportedly go to charity, as well.
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