Tiger Woods v Phil Mickelson: Is it all about the money?

By Alex Pattle

This week saw the announcement of a one-on-one golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, with the two renowned American golfers set to go head-to-head this November in Las Vegas.

The victor will rake in a massive $9 million dollars along with the ever-important ‘bragging rights’.

This sort of one-off, big name matchup is rather atypical in the world of golf, which is one of the more traditionalist sports out there.

Furthermore, the reasoning behind this particular contest is somewhat ambiguous, or even lacking, one might argue.

The so-called ‘super fight’ is in vogue at the moment, and it seems that Woods versus Mickelson is golf’s closest approximation.

Money, money, money

Embed from Getty Images

 

Admittedly, it seems that ‘super fights’ don’t need to involve much logic.

Last summer, boxing’s Floyd Mayweather faced off against MMA’s Conor McGregor in the most notable ‘super fight’ in recent years, and many fans deemed the clash nothing more than a gimmicky, money-making farce.

Although the fight ended up being mildly entertaining, it must be said that each man earned a ludicrous amount of money for a boxing match in which one of the participants wasn’t actually a boxer.

LISTEN: Episode 26: Amy Conroy

While both Mayweather and McGregor talked up the sporting credibility of the contest in the run-up to the event, it seemed fairly clear to the average person that the bout was centred much more on money-making than any actual sporting merit.

There was only ever going to be one fitting location for that fight – Las Vegas.

In a similar fashion Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be pitting themselves against one another somewhere near Nevada’s neon strip this November.

There has even been some (tame) trash talk on Twitter.

Embed from Getty Images

 

The point here is not that this contest is a mismatch, or that it will be a farcical spectacle, because both men are recognised as two of the greatest golfers of all time.

But you don’t need an expert to tell you that they are not exactly in their prime.

It’s been five years since Mickelson last won a major, and 10 since Woods did.

Although the latter came very close this month at the PGA Championship in Missouri – and wasn’t far off first place at The Open in July – these were Woods’ closest shaves since his 2009 Gillette commercials.

Bringing in the big bucks

Embed from Getty Images

 

You can’t help but ask the cynical question: what is the point of pairing Woods and Mickelson together, if not simply for the sake of making money?

Moreover, if this isn’t the reason for this match taking place, then what warrants it being a pay-per-view event?

Some golf fans have exhibited a degree of interest in the match but have expressed their hesitance at paying for it.

LISTEN: Episode 25: Emily Diamond

Certain publications have labelled the match a ‘high stakes’ affair, but $9 million in prize money doesn’t seem that significant when one considers that the two golfers in question are ranked first and second on the sport’s all-time career money leaderboard (there’s no $9 million prize for guessing which of the two is first).

The contest is taking place on Thanksgiving weekend, which typically provides notably lucrative television time in the United States.

Embed from Getty Images

 

So, if this were merely a charity contest aired on free TV on a national holiday perhaps the whole ordeal would make a bit more sense.

It may also have made more sense if it had taken place in 2008 – in fact, the matchup may have even felt important then.

But to put an event of this sort on pay-per-view, at this stage in both men’s careers, with nothing on the line does not seem entirely sensical.

It’s about the dollar bill

Embed from Getty Images

 

Some readers may feel that to question the motive behind this match is moot – even if the motive is money so much sport is ruled by dollar signs nowadays this may not be an issue.

The point, however, is that this is a strange event to organise if you’re trying to make money.

If it were Jordan Spieth versus Rory McIlroy – two easily marketable golfers who are both essentially in the prime of their careers with the world number one spot on the line – then maybe it would be easier for fans to buy into (and actually buy) the event.

With that said, two of YouTube’s biggest stars – Logan Paul and KSI – will compete in a boxing match on pay-per-view this weekend despite neither man being especially renowned for their boxing prowess.

Embed from Getty Images

 

So it seems there is certainly a precedent for sporting clashes of a much lesser calibre with names of a much lesser prestige taking place on pay-per-view.

Whether or not that is a good enough excuse for organising Woods versus Mickelson is debatable.

Regardless, with the contest being marketed simply as ‘The Match’ then it must be that big of a deal. Apparently.

Have you listened to the SportSpiel podcast yet? Find all our episodes here.

Leave a Reply