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Tiger vs. Phil: The start of the new wave of golf matches?

After a lot of back and forth, and loads of numbers being thrown around, it appears that we finally have the framework for a much-hyped match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Now, there is a lot of mixed feelings about the match itself an whether or not it will be worth watching, but let’s face it – everyone is going to tune in. This is especially true when you consider that they will be playing for a WHOPPING USD 9 million! Let’s break down the event in a little more detail.

Why are they playing?

Well, there are lots of reasons why they are playing, and none really involve the money (although it doesn’t hurt). Neither player NEEDS the money, but they have to make it about something, right? We think this goes much deeper. Tiger and Phil’s relationship over the years has warmed, but in the early 2000s, they simply did not get along. It probably didn’t help that while Tiger was crushing majors, Phil was struggling to win his first. Now, into their 40s, they have seemingly set aside their personal differences, even playing some practice rounds together!

They are also smart businessmen, and they know how big this is for their brands. We suspect that they are behind this new “The Match” series, and will get a cut of the action regardless if they are playing or not. Also, they haven’t had a chance to consider this for the last 10 years while Tiger has been recovering from physical and mental issues. So, now the stars have aligned, and just in the nick of time as the two are reaching the end of their PGA careers.

When and where is this happening?

The Match is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 23rd, and is scheduled to be played in…Las Vegas, of course! Where else would be more fitting for the biggest (legal) golf bet? The course has yet to be determined (it is likely to be Shadow Creek Golf Club) but suffice it to say that scheduling the match on the Friday of the Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. will draw some eyeballs. Once the full details on tickets and timing are available, we will publish an update to this article.

What is the format?

This is a match play, winner-take-all format. The two players will play 18 holes (or as many are necessary to determine a winner) with the winner taking the check for $9 Million. However, the producers have promised some additional action during the match. Each player is able to make side bets with the other (longest drive, closest to the pin, etc.) as the match is ongoing, for whatever amount they agree upon. The money from these bets will go to charity.

How can you watch?

Now, here’s the rub. Unless you are planning a trip to Las Vegas for the holiday (and hell, who wouldn’t want to escape long dinners with family, right?), then you are going to have to pay for the event on Pay Per View. This is causing some major friction in the golf community, but we think it makes total sense not to broadcast this on television. First, there is a prize pool that needs to be paid, and just like boxing and MMA, where do you think this is coming from. We still don’t know the cost of the event but expect it to be in the $24.99 range. If that ends up being the price, and only 1 million people order it….well, you can do the math. Not just the golfers stand to make money on this project.

Will this be the only match?

At this point, there are no other matches scheduled. However, our minds are racing with the idea of what we might see in more matches. Just think of some of the possibilities:

Koepka vs. Johnson: Battle of the long hitters
Spieth vs. Thomas: Young Guns
Woods/Phil vs. Reed/Spieth: Old vs. Young

As you can see… the combinations are endless. While there is nothing else scheduled, we suspect that as soon as the PPV numbers are in, we’ll see new matches announced. From a gambling perspective, this is a very attractive event from a casual bettor’s perspective (Tiger is a -180 favorite right now), so we would love to see more of these “gateway” events to bring more people to the regulated sports betting market.