Well, sort of. In an exchange befitting golf’s genteel image, the level of discourse barely approached anything that could be described as trash-talking, as Mickelson tweeted, “I bet you think this will be the easiest $9 [million] you will ever make,” with an emoji crying tears of laughter.
“Think you will earn some bragging rights?” Woods replied.
“Let’s do this,” Mickelson said in return.
Shots fired! Actually, Mickelson took another jab at Woods, and it might have landed, given that the latter did not respond to a suggestion that the image promoting the event showed him using “a left-handed driver.”
Woods had started that exchange by tweeting out the promotional image, saying, “It’s on.” Labeled “The Match,” the 18-hole showdown is set for Thanksgiving weekend at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, and the winner will indeed pocket a cool 9 mill.
The event will be available to fans as a pay-per-view, with the price yet to be announced. It will be distributed by Turner Broadcasting, which is marshaling an array of associated platforms, including HBO, TNT and Bleacher Report, to wring as much out of “The Match” as it can.
Woods and Mickelson “are generational talents who have transcended the game of golf and their rivalry continues to be one of the most compelling in sports,” Turner President David Levy said in a statement, describing the event as “one-of-a-kind.”
Fortunately for all concerned, Woods has revived his game to the point where this makes for a compelling matchup, even if some fans would have preferred to see it about 15 years ago, when both were in their primes. For the past couple of years, there appeared to be an increasing chance that Woods might never play a competitive round again, as he struggled with back problems and personal issues.
After a surprisingly successful season, his first full campaign since 2015, Woods is actually playing better than Mickelson, who at 48 is 5 1/2 years older. Woods’s second-place finish at the PGA Championship earlier this month came three weeks after he placed sixth at the British Open, and he has notched six other top-12 finishes.
By comparison, Mickelson started off the season strong but has fallen off of late, as he missed the cut entirely at the PGA Championship and hasn’t had a top-20 finish since June. However, for a golfer who famously likes to make things interesting, both in terms of his playing style and his fondness for wagers, the huge amount at stake — an eye-opener even for this pair of very wealthy men — could bring out the best in him.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of money,” Mickelson said last month. “No matter how much money you have, this amount will take both of us out of our comfort zone.”
According to Turner, Mickelson and Woods will also “selectively make side-challenges against one another during the match.” Those could include “challenging the other to a long-drive, closest-to-the-pin or similar competition during a hole,” with the winnings being donated to a charity of choice.
We can probably also expect some more good-natured ribbing along the way. Here’s hoping both guys bring their respective “A” games in that regard, and now that he’s joined Twitter, Mickelson has a few months to learn from some of the best at trolling.