An idea once only thought to be the stuff of dreams looks to be becoming reality.
Golf greats Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are planning a $10-million winner-take-all grudge match that will air on prime-time television, Golf.com’s Alan Shipnuck is reporting.
This is an event that was originally planned for July 3 in Las Vegas, Shipnuck says, but ultimately couldn’t come together in time.
With that said, the pair – who have combined for 122 PGA Tour wins and 19 major championships – are working together to make this fantasy event happen.
“We’re working on a different date,” Mickelson told Golf.com Thursday. “I thought it was done for the 3rd but obviously it wasn’t.”
A one-on-one match between Woods and Mickelson appeared to have been hinted at by the two superstars themselves at this year’s Players’ Championship when they were paired together for the first two rounds of the event.
“As I look at the cover of the newspaper and the pairing is on there and the excitement that’s been going on around here, it gets me thinking: Why don’t we just bypass all the ancillary stuff of a tournament and just go head-to-head and just have kind of a high-stake, winner-take-all match,” Mickelson told reporters before the Players’ back in May.
“Now, I don’t know if he wants a piece of me, but I just think it’d be something that would be really fun for us to do, and I think there would be a lot of interest in it if we just went straight to the final round.”
“I’m definitely not against that. We’ll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable,” Woods responded at a subsequent press conference.
By the looks of things, it seems the $10 million that will reportedly be on the line is at least making Mickelson a little antsy, and should do the same for Woods.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of money,” Mickelson told Shipnuck. “No matter how much money you have, this amount will take both of us out of our comfort zone.”
Then again, should the project come together the way Mickelson seems to want it to, then whoever has to fork over the $10 million likely still won’t be hurting much for it because, as Shipnuck reports, both Woods and Mickelson are attempting to control every aspect of this shared endeavour in order to maximize profits, and are even considering turning this event into a world tour should it be as successful as they hope.
Mickelson says he and Woods hope to play a couple exhibitions a year, around the world. Sometimes they could partner up –depending on how the Ryder Cup goes, it’s easy to envision Tiger and Phil taking on two top Europeans (a match with Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter as the opposition could be particularly juicy). Woods and Mickelson are both shrewd businessmen, and they are trying to set up this new venture so they essentially own the matches and thus will get a chunk of the TV revenue, merchandising, and sponsorship dough.
Part of the way Mickelson says they plan on accomplishing this is by offering a television golf experience never seen before. One that helps showcase both his and Woods’ big personalities.
“You will hear a lot of the comments that you don’t hear on regular TV,” Mickelson said. “We both like to talk smack, and we both have fun with what we’re doing, and the fact that this isn’t an official tournament, that it’s just a head-to-head match, you’ll hear some of the little nuances, some of the little things that you don’t normally pick up.”
At the moment there’s nothing definitive set for this event yet, but Shipnuck does say it’s likely to go down at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.
Regardless when it eventually happens, this appears to be the culmination of one of golf’s most storied and intensely frigid rivalries finally turning for the better.
“As we’ve developed a good relationship, we’ve started to collaborate on some other things that have allowed us to achieve things that we couldn’t do on our own,” said Mickelson. “Like this match. I couldn’t do it on my own, he couldn’t do it on his own, but together we’re [trying] to create something pretty special.”
And now we’re all the better because of it.