Commentary: Tiger-Phil match just a silly money grab

Tim Dahlberg
Associated Press

It’s probably pure coincidence the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson match on Thanksgiving weekend was announced on the first anniversary of one of the biggest con jobs in pay-per-view history.

You might remember a year ago when Conor McGregor went from mixed martial arts into boxing to challenge Floyd Mayweather Jr., and the gullible fans of UFC couldn’t wait to plunk down $100 to see all the action unfold on their TV screens at home.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much action, much as predicted beforehand by those who saw through the smokescreen and recognized the whole thing as a farce. Mayweather systematically broke McGregor down in a mismatch that went into the 10th round only because Mayweather carried McGregor to appease the crowd that paid to see it.

That’s not to say the so-called fight wasn’t a success, at least for the bank accounts of both men. It may have bordered on WWE, but it made Mayweather $300 million or so and gave McGregor a $100-million payday he could have never gotten toiling in UFC.

Woods and Mickelson won’t make that kind of money, not even close. The winner of their 18-hole match is supposedly guaranteed $9 million, while the loser will have to hope there are golf fans eager to buy the match so there will be a cut of the pay-per-view revenue to take back home on the private jet.

Thankfully, their match in Las Vegas likely won’t cost close to $100, either, though you will have to pay something to watch all the, er, action unfold. The consensus is it will be in the $20-30 range.

So what will you get for the money that you don’t get every week the two play on the PGA Tour? Well, so far the best Woods and Mickelson are offering is some trash talk as they make their way around the Shadow Creek golf club the day after Thanksgiving. They are also promising some side bets, including perhaps a long drive wager. None of it with their own money, of course, but the broadcast will need a lot of filler to pad the time between actual shots.

The Woods-Mickelson match is, as Woods is fond of saying, what it is. And what it is is a calculated money grab that should pay off handsomely for two players who between them have only one win in the past five years.

It doesn’t matter that the match is so contrived that Mickelson had to sign up for Twitter to promote it. Woods and Mickelson won’t draw anywhere near the 4.3 million pay-per-view buys generated by McGregor and Mayweather but there are enough golf super fans who will be willing to spend money to get what they believe will be the inside look at the players they have followed over the years.

Again, nothing wrong with that. They’ll have a little less Christmas money, but the memory forever of having Woods tell Mickelson, “No you’re up.”

It’s silly season golf, a tradition that goes way back. The Skins game was a Thanksgiving weekend staple for years on network TV, and before that Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player teamed up in a series of televised exhibitions called Big Three Golf.

The money is a lot bigger now, and so is the marketing machine. Woods and Mickelson will both do their best to generate some as the match approaches, even if their showdown is probably 20 years past their prime.

Enjoy it if you can’t resist, but remember what it is you’re buying: An exhibition with only one real purpose, to separate dollars from your bank account.


PGA Tour

Dell Technologies Championship

Site: TBC Boston, Norton, Mass.; 7,342 yards, par 71

Purse: $9 million (winner: $1.62 million)

TV: Friday, 2:30-6:30 p.m. (GC); Saturday, 3-6:30 p.m. (GC); Sunday 1-3 p.m. (GC); 3-6 p.m. (NBC); Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (GC), 1:30-6 p.m. (NBC)

Defending champion: Justin Thomas

FedEx Cup leader: Bryson DeChambeau

PGA Tour Champions

Shaw Charity Classic

Site: Canyon Meadows G&CC, Calgary, Alberta; 7,086 yards, par 70

Purse: $2.35 million (winner: $352,000)

TV: Friday-Saturday, TBD; Sunday, 5-7 p.m. (GC)

Defending champion: Scott McCarron


Portland Classic

Site: Columbia Edgewater GC, Portland, Ore., 6,476 yards, par 72

Purse: $1.3 million (winner: $195,000)

TV: Thursday, 7-10 p.m. (GC); Friday-Saturday 5:30-8:30 p.m. (GC); Sunday, 6-9 p.m. (GC)

Defending champion: Stacy Lewis