Monday Night Golf is back, y’all. Or maybe it’s the Skins Game. Something like that, whatever it is, golf will be on a massive stage on one of the biggest sporting days of the year come this fall.
The much-hyped, multi-million dollar match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson is set for Thanksgiving night in Las Vegas. This tweet from Tiger’s account late Wednesday afternoon confirmed the news first reported weeks back by Golf Magazine’s Alan Shipnuck — and discussed openly by Mickelson through the month of August.
It’s on @PhilMickelson #TigerVSPhil pic.twitter.com/PZivYPOEf5— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) August 22, 2018
In shades of the made-for-TV showdowns that pulled in massive ratings for ABC in the early 2000s, Golf Magazine’s Alan Shipnuck is reporting this morning that Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods could soon battle in a one-on-one, 18-hole match with an eight-figure purse — and they’ll be mic’ed up for the entire broadcast.
Still, even with the contrived Twitter banter and Phil’s new presence on the medium altogether
Yes, you read that right — Tiger and Phil, longtime rivals with not a ton of warm and cuddly feelings between the two, will team up for an event that will probably make both a boatload of cash. The two rivals were originally rumored to hit the links for a $10 million, winner-take-all match showdown on July 3, according to Mickelson. Now, they’ve found a date that fits with each pro’s PGA Tour schedule while accommodating Woods’ return from the back injury that kept him from the course most of the last three years. And it’s sure to draw plenty of eyeballs — maybe even enough to compete with the NFL’s late game in prime-time.
Still, it’s jarring for most any that follow golf to see Tiger and Phil chummy enough to spin up such a spectacle. As Shipnuck recounts, the whole foundation was laid for this newfound kinship as part of the much-discussed Ryder Cup Task Force that rose from the ashes of the 2014 American debacle at Gleneagles. Phil started the process with his tongue-lashing of Tom Watson at the press conference after, Tiger jumped in, and the relationship’s somewhat “blossomed” since. Or, at worst, the antipathy’s mellowed:
In early 2015, when Woods was suffering through the chip-yips, Mickelson reached out and offered to help him. Given their previous frostiness, it was a gesture of deep empathy. Throughout 2016, Tiger and Phil maintained a steady correspondence while exchanging ideas about that year’s Ryder Cup, where Woods would serve as a vice captain and Mickelson the team leader. That week at Hazeltine, Phil knew his reputation was at stake, and he was deeply moved by Tiger’s activist support.
”He was big a part of everything,” Mickelson said in a recent sit-down interview for a cover story in the August edition of GOLF. “He’s been a great vice captain because he’s so detail-oriented. Guys listen to him and respect him. They look at him with awe and admiration. When he says something, it’s taken very seriously. And so having his input and his voice be heard more was a big deal for us [in 2016] and continues to be.”
It’s worth noting, at least, that Tiger’s camp didn’t have any comment for Shipnuck on Phil’s remarks — though that’s not horribly unusual. There’s likely some logistical planning that still needs to go down here: sponsors, payout, tv networks, etc. It seems like we’re eyeing Vegas as the locale — with the mysterious and posh Shadow Creek possibly being the targeted locale.
But, man, it’s hard to not get excited about the thought of a Tiger-Phil showdown that mirrors ABC’s under-the-lights Monday Night Golf Series that was a wild success (when it started). That series peaked in 2000, with a duel between Tiger and Sergio Garcia drawing a 7.6 (!!) rating on ABC. For context, that’s the same exact TV rating CBS drew for the final round of Garcia’s Masters win 2017.
But for now, we’ll wait until Turkey Day — and just have to rewatch Monday Night Golf intros until we’ve got a date.