9 Reasons to Watch Capital One's The Match: Tiger vs. PhilNovember 20, 2018
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will tee it up for $9 million at High Noon Pacific time this Friday at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.
We’re talking golf’s two Sultans of Swat. Tiger owns 80 PGA Tour victories, Phil has 43. Between them they’ve won 19 majors.
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These are the nine reasons we can’t wait to watch Capital One’s The Match:
1. It will look unlike any other golf broadcast you’ve ever seen
Get ready for a one-of-a-kind golf event, featuring drone coverage, real-time odds and a variety of cameras and technological innovations in a boxing-esque PPV experience.
Among those participating in the broadcast are Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson and many more.
Here is how you can watch:
You can stream golf’s first ever live pay-per-view event for $19.99 on B/R Live right here, or through AT&T’s DIRECTV and U-verse services. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a one-hour show before the players tee off at 3.
You can watch a 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) feed on DIRECTV Channel 106 for $29.99.
You are not out of luck if you don’t have access to those services. The PPV event will be widely distributed to other outlets, including Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and Altice in the U.S. and Rogers, Shaw and Bell in Canada through In Demand and Vubiquity.
Also, there will be comprehensive highlights and behind-the-scenes content on Bleacher Report’s House of Highlights. TNT will broadcast the best moments from the match one week following the live competition.
2. Everyone, and we mean everyone, is going to be wearing a mic
Tiger, Phil and both caddies (Joe LaCava for Woods, Tim Mickelson for his older brother) all will be mic’d up for the competition. This is great not so much to know what Tiger has left to the front edge at the par-5 fourth, but more for the trash talking that is sure to go on between all parties. Phil is an A-lister when it comes to talking smack, and this could jolt Tiger out of his usually reserved demeanor. Hey, it’s two guys, 18 holes, some side challenges will be presented (we’re in Vegas, after all) and therein lies one element that will make this matchup different than, say, the opening round of the WGC-Match Play.
Could the mic potentially pick up the rare curse word or two? “There’s always swearing with Tiger,” Mickelson said playfully, “whether it’s pay-per-view or not.” Woods kind of concedes his opponent that one (Mickelson, 1 up), and wouldn’t want to be mic’d every week, he said on HBO, “because there would be fines.” Yes, there would.
And when it comes to witty banter, it doesn’t take much to stoke the fire. Consider this great scene on the first tee of the Tour Championship at East Lake some years back:
3. Tiger and Phil are healthy and both won last season
Tiger and Phil may not have all that much in common, but both players shared this entering 2018: neither had won in a long, long time. In fact, both players had last won in 2013.
Mickelson won the British Open at Muirfield in Scotland that summer, his first (and only) Open victory. That had been the major championship in which he’d been a contender the least. Woods won five times and was PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2013, but hadn’t won since August 2013 as he entered the great unknown that was the 2018 season.
Phil won the WGC-Mexico Championships in March, holding off talented Justin Thomas, and when Tiger contended at Valspar shortly after (he’d finish second, and eventually get long-awaited victory No. 80 in September at the Tour Championship), the early seed was planted for these two to go head to head in a winner-takes-all battle.
“Wouldn’t it be neat for us to do something that’s different?” Tiger said in the HBO Sports' 24/7 The Match documentary. “We want to make sure that people are still interested in the game and the next generation of people are still interested in the game, and this is a fantastic way of doing it.”
4. We’ll see if Tiger still has the (slight) edge on Phil
All time, Tiger has Phil on more Tour victories (80-43) and majors (14-5). If you were keeping track during the Tour’s 2017-18 campaign, according to Golfweek’s Sagarin Rankings, the two players competed in 14 common events and tied 7-7 in best finishes. These two are always aware of the other guy and what he’s doing on any given week. Drilling a little deeper, they played 48 common rounds this season, and in those rounds, according to the Sagarins, Tiger had the edge, posting a mark of 24-20-4.
Tiger certainly was the hotter guy in the latter part of the FedEx Cup season. Phil’s sixth (and final) top-10 finish of the season came in May at Wells Fargo, though he did post four top-15 finishes from that point on. Woods held the lead on the back nine at the Open Championship and ran second to red-hot Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship in St. Louis in August before he broke through to win at the season-ending Tour Championship.
Both players were disappointed with their winless Ryder Cup performances and have played little since (Mickelson teed it up at the Safeway last month). Phil jetted in from California to check out Shadow Creek, so chances are he may know the course a little better than his opponent. If he can get his tee shots in play, he’ll be firing at flags. Phil and Vegas are a pretty good mix.
5. We’ll see if Phil can add to his rare head-to-head wins over Tiger
Yes, Tiger certainly has the upper hand in this rivalry. “In the big picture,” Phil told HBO’s 24/7 in a more humble moment, “he’s spanked me pretty good.” But let us not forget that Phil has had some nice moments in this rivalry, too. In 2000, Tiger arrived to the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines—a place where he has enjoyed some serious success, having won six consecutive tournament starts. The buzz of making a run at Byron Nelson’s magical 1945 streak—wins in 11 straight starts—was starting to get real. And then the big left-hander stepped up in front of home fans to stop the streak cold.
“That felt good,” Mickelson said. “It just had that little bit better taste and feel to it, to end his streak. It always feels good to beat him, whether it’s for a win, top-10 or 50th place. It always feels good to beat him.”
Phil got a similar taste when the two were paired together in the final round, final pairing, at a magical place to both, Pebble Beach Golf Links, in 2012. That day was a jaw-dropper all the way around. Phil shot 64 to Tiger’s 75, beating him by 11 shots. He rolled on a big day, big stage, and the excitement in his face that day was palpable.
6. This will help us bridge that gap to the Masters
It’s a long winter between right now and Augusta National. But seeing these two will remind us it’s creeping closer. Phil and Tiger have accounted themselves quite well at Augusta National Golf Club, where their length, imagination and short-game prowess have led to a combined total of seven championships.
These two had to trade jackets at Augusta National more than a decade ago, and in typical fashion, what goes around, comes around. Phil had won in 2004—his first major championship!—so when Tiger collected his fourth Masters title that next April, you-know-who had to slide the iconic green jacket on him. Funny, but Tiger milked the moment by wiggling his shoulders to make sure the jacket fit just right. (“I signed so many pictures of me putting the jacket on him,” Mickelson told HBO. “It sucked.”)
But one year later, Mickelson won his second Masters and Tiger was the man to put his jacket over his shoulders. In typical devilish fashion, Phil took his time to move his shoulders, keep Tiger in the frame, and get his "perfect fit." Tiger laughed when retelling the 2005 story on HBO.
7. There are going to be plenty of side challenges
That’s right, with proceeds going to charity, these two players will set their own odds on pulling off shots at various points in the match. Long drive on this hole, anyone? Or can I get 5-to-1 on this 20-footer? That part of the match will make it a lot of fun. Phil already seemed to be plotting his strategy in his practice round, figuring he has the edge over Tiger when it comes to proximity on shorter irons into the par-3 holes.
In Phil, you have a guy who hits flop shots over live people, so who knows where this might lead? One cool thing for viewers is that they can play along with the side challenges, too. Just don’t let Phil burn you with some crazy up-and-down from jail.
Play along with Tiger and Phil in the Pick'em Challenge
“Phil’s short game is off the charts, how good it is,” Tiger told 24/7. “He misses it in some bad spots and has this amazing knack for having the right speed, and judging lies better than most. That’s just a skill he has. He has some incredible hands and hits some incredible shots. You know if you’re playing against Phil in a match-play situation, he’s never out of a hole.”
8. We get a rare glimpse of Shadow Creek
Yes, and that in itself is an incredible treat. Shadow Creek is a beautiful venue, as lush and manicured as Augusta, and accessible to a few big-time Vegas high rollers and a handful of A-list celebrities. As playing opportunities go for the average Vegas Joe, it’s not an easy get, though you have a shot at getting on for $500 if you are staying at a MGM Mirage resort.
For aspirational golfers who want to check off all the big stops in golf, making one’s way onto Shadow Creek can grace many a bucket list. Shadow Creek is an incredible Tom Fazio creation. Think Jurassic Park meets Pine Valley. It’s spectacular, feeling almost make-believe. This writer got a chance to play there in 2011, knowing he was in for a cool experience the moment his, ahem, limousine rolled in to pick him up. One recent golfer that played Shadow Creek that particular week had stood on the first tee and crowed, “Hey, is anyone else playing a TaylorMade 43?” It was, of course, George W. Bush, No. 43 himself. Clint Eastwood played there on Opening Day, and Wayne Gretzky and Derek Jeter have had their name plates on lockers.
Hole-by-hole breakdown of Shadow Creek
The great line about Shadow Creek, built nearly 30 years ago by Vegas mogul Steve Wynn and highly ranked nationally, was that Fazio, the architect, was given an unlimited budget on the project—and still exceeded it. Funny line. (Maybe true.) The place looks nothing like the hardscrabble area of town from which it rose.
Meanwhile, the $9 million winner-take-all purse is so, well, Vegas, isn’t it? That’s a sum that even gets the attention of these guys. Phil collected his biggest single winner’s check earlier this season in Mexico, earning $1.7 million; Tiger’s biggest payday was winning The Players in 2013. He earned $1.71 million, or $10,000 more than Phil.
9. Bragging rights will be claimed—and Phil might dance
Mickelson is six years older than Woods and was rolling along quite nicely when the Golden Child arrived to the PGA Tour in 1996. Woods had grown up in SoCal knowing that he was trying to be better than the area’s previous teen wunderkind—a young left-hander from San Diego named Phil Mickelson. Mickelson admits that when Woods signed eight-figure endorsement deals before he even had stepped out on Tour, he and many other players were extremely jealous. It just didn’t seem deserved. Soon they’d learn that Woods would be the rocket ship to lift the purses in golf so high that it would make pro golf a better business for all.
So if the relationship started out a little frigidly, and it had its tense moments, it seems as if there’s been a softening through the years. When Phil’s wife Amy was bravely taking on cancer, Woods was supportive to the Mickelson family. And likewise, when Tiger went through personal issues, and then health challenges that threatened his career, Phil always picked up the phone and made the call. Phil calls Tiger “the greatest player of all-time, because he doesn’t have any weaknesses,” but the two have stretched this relationship beyond the course. Putting their heads together to help turn around sagging U.S. fortunes in the Ryder Cup got the two working together toward a common goal.
That said, they still relish beating the other guy’s proverbial brains in. In predicting the outcome of next week’s match, each player said the other wouldn’t make it to the 18th tee.
“The 18th hole will be there just to be played, and I’ll have him closed out,” Tiger told HBO. As for Phil? He even was planning his victory celebration, saying he may break out some dance moves. Phil: “I might even do the worm across the green if I were to win nine mill.”