Nov 24th, 2018
The verdict as Mickelson beats Tiger in $9million shoot out
AKA dampest of the squids...
Words: Tim Southwell
Phil Mickelson is $9million richer this morning after a playoff victory under the floodlights against Tiger Woods in the much trumpeted and equally maligned 'Match' at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.
The matchplay between the two Americans went to a 22nd hole before Lefty sank a four-foot putt for victory. Tiger had kept the match alive by chipping in at 17 to stop Mickelson putting for the match, then missed a chance himself from eight feet on the first extra hole, leading to a sudden-death playoff from 93 yards. Which was a real mess with neither player firing and Mickelson actually announcing "I don't want to win like this" when he conceded a five-foot putt to Tiger.
"I'm just trying to calm down, my heart can't take any more, it was such an incredible opportunity," Mickelson, a five-time major champion, said. "He's the greatest of all time but to have a little bit of smack talk for the coming years means a lot to me because I don't have a lot on him!"
In truth, the match was pretty boring with neither player turning on the style. The most interesting aspect was hearing a mic'dup Tiger swearing repeatedly as he hit poor shot after poor shot. Attempts to liven things up and inject a bit of dignity came when they randomly challenged each other to a nearest the pin or longest drive competition, the tune of $100-200,000 with the proceeds going to charity.
Give us a kiss...
Despite my misgivings, I did watch The Match inbetween flicking to see what was happening on Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. After a while, it was difficult to figure out which program was which as Tiger trudged around the course looking for all the world like he'd walked into a trap filled with fish guts and biting ants.
For those in the States who stumped up $20 for pay-per-view (it was played 'free' on Sky Golf in the UK if you happened to have that subscription package) their Thanksgiving weekend was not enhanced by the pedestrian play and awkward silences which were often punctuated by desperate TV pundits (Darren Clarke and Pat Perez included) all talking over each other at the precise moment – as sod's law would have it – the players and caddies finally broke their silence. At times there were six or seven people talking at once in brave but clumsy attempt after clumsy attempt to inject some energy to proceedings.
This was supposed to be 'golf as we've never seen it before' and to some degree it was, it was rubbish. $9miilon worth of rubbish.
So was it – as many had intimated – a pointless, indulgent exercise which only served to make two of the richest players in the history of the game even richer? I'm afraid so.
Darren Clarke, watching in his role as an analyst on the American television coverage, conceded after 10 holes: "We need a spark, we need something." American basketball legend Charles Barkley – who knows what he's talking about as he has the world's worst golf swing – was less generous on the same show: "This is some crappy golf," said the former NBA star.
The event's promotional hashtag #TheMatch trended both worldwide and in the UK on Twitter as players, journalists and fans dissected the spectacle, but during one protracted ad break, I actually forgot it was on and ended up watching half an Alan Partridge episode before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing. It was that forgettable.
Still, Phil has another $9million to take down the casino and $600k won in side bets to give to charity.
"It was competitive but at the end of the day we're going to help a lot of people out," said Tiger.
Fair play, but a lack of humour, tension or any real jeopardy made The Match a squib of the dampest variety.