With a winner-take-all $9 million at stake, it’s nice that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson can afford to make a $200,000 side bet for their Friday pay-per-view event in Las Vegas.
Facing off during a news conference on Tuesday at Shadow Creek Golf Course, site of “The Match,” two of the PGA Tour’s most successful golfers sounded like a couple of heavyweight boxers ready to duke it out and deliver the knockout punch.
“I feel like the first hole is a great hole for me,” Mickelson said. “And I believe — in fact, I’m willing to risk $100,000 that says I birdie the first hole. So that’s how good I feel heading into this match.”
Woods fired back by asking, “So you think you can make birdie on the first hole?”
Mickelson responded: “I know I’m going to make birdie on the first hole.”
Woods couldn’t resist meeting the challenge, needing only two words to set the stage:
“Double it,” he said.
Woods, 42, and Mickelson, 48, will tee off from Shadow Creek’s 415-yard, par-4 first hole at 3 p.m. ET Friday.
After the verbal jousting, Mickelson even paid his opponent a compliment, while also giving Woods something to consider.
“He came along and broke every single record I had,” Mickelson said. “Junior records, college. U.S. Amateur. I won one, he won three. At Shadow Creek, I shot the course record 61. A couple of years later, you shoot 60.
“But Friday you’ve got to do it simultaneously. You can’t come along and do it later. It’s my chance after losing so many tournaments to you, so many majors, to get something back.”
That’s all he hopes to pay in an event where the loser comes away with nothing.
Agreeing to the side bet, which in other events usually comes from the players’ own funds while the proceeds go to charity, Mickelson decided to rub it in one more time.
“Did you see how I baited him like that?” he said. “Yes. $200(,000) says I birdie the first hole.”
–Field Level Media