After 22 holes in what can only be seen as a celebration of golf by the game's two most iconic stars currently, Phil Mickelson bested Tiger Woods in 'The Match' on November 23.
The one-on-one match boasted a $9 million prize for the winner, and the two legends dueled it out through four playoff holes to determine a winner. But more important than the excessive pot was the bragging rights that come along with the victory — Mickelson says he won't let Woods hear the end of it about his victory for a long time.
With both men gearing up for the 2019 and a bid for another Green Jacket at The Masters® 2019, let's look at some of the takeaways from 'The Match'.
Don't Look Too Much Into the Numbers
While there was a lot of money at stake, let's not forget that this match took place outside of the PGA season and was more or less about a friendly competition. The reason for pointing this out is that neither men looked at their best at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas — and definitely not up to major tournament form.
In the lead up to the match, it was expected that a 63 or 64 would be the magic number for the eventual winner. In the end, though, both Woods and Mickelson finished at 69 through 18 holes.
Woods looked out of sorts at points, bogeying three times through the 18. But he kicked into gear on the final couple of holes to force the playoff in what had been a rather pedestrian affair beforehand.
But again, you're reaching for straws if you are looking too much into the performance of either man.
Mickelson Wanted it More
This one really comes down to the eye test and relies more on a feeling than straight-up fact. But given his play at the end of the year, performing poorly in every major tournament and the Ryder Cup in 2018, Mickelson had a little extra drive to oust his longtime rival. Keep in mind that Woods is coming off of a historic win at The Tour Championship, and if his career revitalization is to be believed, he's already preparing mentally for success at THE PLAYERS Championship and The Masters® next year.
In fact, Mickelson almost flat out said that he had more to gain in this bout than Tiger: "In the big picture, nothing is going to detract from the career and accomplishments he's had,'' Mickelson said. "For me to have a little something on him like this means a lot to me.''
This proved true in the final holes, as Woods looked to be just trying to stay alive while Mickelson consistently went for the kill in the playoff rounds. After four extra holes, Lefty finally got his advantage.
The Smack Talk took Front Stage
When you're facing off in match play, golf's emphasis on being a mental game really shines through. As Mickelson and Woods went hole to hole, the friendly yet charged chattering between the two became a headline. While it wasn't to the level that some expected, it still highlighted a lull during the beginning and middle holes.
But this pacifistic war of words didn't just start on the course, but instead was the highlight almost a month leading up to the match.
Woods started the mental sparring with the claim that he's "been in Phil's head for 20-something odd years".
Mickelson responded with a warning shot, preparing Woods for his ill-fate should he lose.
"The bragging rights that will go on for months and years after this will be just as valuable (as the money)," Mickelson said. "Because if I'm able to come out on top I am the worst guy to lose to. I'll find a way to make sure you never forget."
With the pre, during and post-match smack talk, we will be sure to hear about the results of this contest far down the road.
Bets, Bets and More Bets
When you're playing for $9 million, what harm is it to throw in a couple extra thousand, right?
During 'The Match', Woods and Mickelson made eight individual side bets to spice up the drama for the coming holes. Out of the eight, five came out as duds with no winner.
Mickelson came out the victor in three of the bets — each being a closest to the pin at holes No. 5, 8 and 13. In total, Mickelson made an extra $600,000 (which was all donated) to add on to his $9 million.
For those scoring the side action, Tiger went 1-3. Won $200K, lost $600K. The only side bet he won was when Phil missed his birdie putt on the first hole.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 24, 2018
See Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at The Masters 2019!
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods will play for much more than a jackpot in April. Both men will likely be headed to Augusta National® again in 2019 to try and add another Green Jacket to their closets. Be there at The Masters® 2019 and choose from grounds access to practice or tournament rounds with a ticket package from QuintEvents! We can get you daily access to the course while also adding hospitality accommodations to your trip.