Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were once major rivals while battling for tournament titles. Now, both players are no longer in the top 10 of worldwide rankings. But they’re trying to rekindle some nostalgia with a big announcement.
Mickelson and Woods are looking to play a high-stakes exhibition match worth $10 million. Each golfer will put up the $10 million amount, with the winner taking all.
This event has been brewing since April, at the Masters, when the two legends played a practice round together. Mickelson himself even alluded to the potential matchup in May.
“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-stakes, winner-take-all match,” he said.
“Now, I don’t know if he wants a piece of me, but I just think it would 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.”
The Date of the $10 Million Matchup Has been Changed
According to Golf.com, the $10 million round was originally set to be a TV special on July 3. But scheduling conflicts have now taken that off the table. The golfers are currently trying to find another date that works.
Woods is up for whenever they can play for the $10 million amount. “I’m definitely not against that,” said the 14-time Majors champion. “We’ll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable.”’
Famed Rivalry Continues
Woods and Mickelson have often been linked throughout their careers in many ways. They both grew up in Southern California, separated by around 100 miles. Mickelson got the earlier pro start, because he’s five and a half years older than Woods. Tiger grew up watching Mickelson during and before he played collegiality for the Stanford Cardinals.
The two became rivals when Tiger did reach the main stage. Press conference jabs, trash talking, and an awkward Ryder Cup pairing ensued.
Woods had quickly captured the golf world’s attention, while Mickelson was still searching for his limelight. But the latter would too find his time to shine, especially during famed duels with Tiger atop tournament leaderboards.
Mickelson and Woods Now Friends
Neither Mickelson nor Tiger are atop as many leaderboards these days. Strangely enough, though, it’s Mickelson who’s closer to the top than his former rival — despite being older and taking longer to reach the spotlight.
When Woods was really struggling to get back on track after injuries, Mickelson reached out to help. The pair began exchanging tips and ideas from then on about the 2016 Ryder Cup and golf in general.
“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.”
The two continue to be friends today. Woods was one of the first people sending congratulatory texts to Mickelson after he won the 2018 WGC-Mexico City event.
They can also joke around somewhat in their trash talk these days.
“The tough thing is that he has the trump card: his career record. OK?” explained Mickelson. “Whether it’s 14 majors, 79 wins, however many players of the year awards, FedEx Cups, the whole deal. He owns all the trump cards. So I have to be very careful and strategic in my smack talk, because if I lay something down, in comes a trump card, you know, and then shuts me right up.”
$10 Million Is an Uncomfortable Bet for Both Players
Phil Mickelson has a net worth of $365 million, while Tiger Woods is even richer at $740 million. Even still, neither player is completely comfortable with $10 million on the line.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of money,” Mickelson said. “No matter how much money you have, this amount will take both of us out of our comfort zone.”
Many claim that both golfers will more than make out, though, when considering the sponsorships and TV ratings involved with such a historic matchup. But Mickelson insists that this match is about more than just a money grab.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The two also have plans to play exhibitions together beyond the $10 million matchup. They’d like to team up and compete against other top golfers around the world. And while it may not all be about the money, Woods and Mickelson would definitely benefit from controlling the TV rights, merchandising, and sponsorships.
This partnership is similar to the one that Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus formed. After being rivals throughout their careers, they became business partners and used their mutual interests to become friends as well.
The same thing appears to be happening with Mickelson and Woods, although they became friends before the business aspect set in.