There Are No Good Reasons To Pay Money To Watch Tiger And Phil Horse Around On An Empty Golf Course

Just a coupla pals cookin’ up a scheme. | Getty Images

Just a coupla pals cookin’ up a scheme. | Getty Images

The day after Thanksgiving, when the typical golf fan (as imagined by the marketing agencies for companies that advertise during golf events) is dragging the artificial Christmas tree out from above his three-car garage while trying not to scratch his Buick Encore with the Werner ladder he got himself for Father’s Day, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will face off in a pay-per-view match play event for $9 million, winner take all. In an effort to differentiate the contest from all others, it’s being billed as “The Match”. Indeed, there have been many matches in many sports, but this ... this is The Match (presented by Capital One). It says so on the cable guide.

“Tiger vs. Phil,” you might be thinking, “wow! The big names, mic’d up, going at it for big bucks! Futurama take my money meme am I right?” While I don’t like the way you talk I feel obligated to inform you that this Match is not what it seems.

Let’s start with the $9 million. That’s a lot of money, even for rich guys. Would be real tough to watch someone like Phil lose nine million dollars on live television. The stakes might just be too high for comfort.

Except they’re not! Neither of these guys are risking a dime. The nine mil ($9,000,000) comes from sponsors, networks, and — you guessed it — the $20 pay-per-view cost. Cash prizes only contribute to viewer enjoyment when the participants’ funds are at stake. Phil and Tiger aren’t competing to “take the money off” one another. They’re just playing for someone else’s money, like they do all the time, when the winning amount is a footnote.

And really, this isn’t even an amount that would make a difference in their lives. At one point during last night’s 24/7, a behind-the-scenes documentary/promotional vehicle on HBO, Phil was on his private jet talking about his early days on the PGA Tour — when he could only dream of winner’s checks worth more than $1 million. Now they’re playing for millions regularly, he said, and the $9 million prize in this match is hard to fathom. It was either a subtle lament about the long-term effects of inflation on the American economy, or a sick brag meant to imply the bank tellers treat him real nice when Mr. Mickelson comes through. Either way, it didn’t exactly make me want to pay to watch him play for just money.

But at least there’s the rivalry, right? All that jealousy simmering since they were juniors in California, ready to boil over on the 18th green with millions on the line.

Unfortunately, they don’t hate each other. Or if they did, they don’t anymore. Tiger and Phil are basically friends at this point, playing practice rounds and texting one another through the ups and downs of injuries and droughts over the last few years. Phil even thinks Tiger will win more major championships, a possibility any true Tiger hater would never entertain. “There was never any bad blood,” Tiger said. Wow sign me up for this bitter grudge match decades in the making.

So cordial are these two that HBO didn’t even bother establishing a villian. Both guys easy to root for or against, depending on who you like more. They may as well charge $20 to watch people tally the results of a local neighborhood association board election.

Perhaps big-money side bets between the two will save the day. Closest to the pin, longest drive, do/don’t, putt for a hundy, slingo, toe-ball scallywag, etc.

The side bets are for charity. Shout out to charities and all that (the good ones anyway), but not since the ‘Casino Night’ episode of The Office have I wanted to watch people gamble for charity.

And don’t hold your breath waiting for Phil and Tiger’s “smack talk” to “bring the heat”, as dads say. The most biting anecdotes featured on 24/7 had to do with Phil needling Tiger about eating dinner with Tiger’s pro-am playing partner Tony Romo, and something about neither of them enjoying placing the Green Jacket on the other. But you can bet your behind there will be a natural expletive or two!

The saddest element of this whole absurd event is the fact that it’s not open to the public. There will be no rowdy gallery to add to the atmosphere. Huge drives and clutch putts will be met with light applause and restrained whoops from a few dozen stuffy VIP’s and sponsor big wigs. Two months after fans spilled onto the 18th fairway and surrounded Tiger as closed out the Tour Championship, the powers that be decided this mega-hyped event should be played in private. Brilliant.

As you consider whether or not to fork over your hard-earned cash to keep up with the big event all the golf nerds will maybe be buzzing about for at least a day or two, remember this: The stakes are nominal, the results don’t matter, and the entertainment possibilities have been sucked dry. It’s The Match, presented by Capital One. |ES|