Fifteen miles from the Las Vegas Strip, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, rivals for more than two decades, will go head-to-head Friday in a high-stakes duel in the desert.
Billed as The Match, the two best players of their generation face off on an 18-hole gem with a huge pot of cash up for grabs. Woods has gotten the better of Mickelson during their storied careers but that will mean little in this one-day showdown with millions of dollars on the line.
The match begins at 3 p.m. ET.
Who’s playing: Tiger Woods (14 major championship titles, 80 PGA Tour victories) vs. Phil Mickelson (5 majors, 43 PGA Tour victories). Each won a tournament this year — Woods, 42, took home the championship hardware at The Tour Championship; Mickelson, 48, won the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. Those were the first wins since 2013 for both players.
Where are they playing: Shadow Creek Golf Course, a man-made marvel in the Mojave Desert that is as challenging as it is beautiful. The course, a par-72 that can tip out at 7,560 yards, features many risk-reward holes, a stout collection of par-3s and long par-4s with doglegs.
What’s the purse: A winner-take-all $9 million. It’s not the players’ money. Instead, sponsors put up the cash.
What’s the format: Match play. Each hole is basically a tournament, as a player earns a point if he beats his opponent on the hole. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of play, which could be on the 10th hole if a player wins the first nine holes.
What might we see as side bets: Woods and Mickelson will raise the stakes as they will be making plenty of wagers throughout the match, with the winnings going to charity. Among the expected bets will be long drive and closest-to-the-pin contests. The players also will likely propose money challenges on putts and up-and-downs. The bets will likely be in the range of $10,000 to $50,000 per wager.
What other highlights will be offered: Both Woods and Mickelson will be mic’d during the match. With no commercial breaks, there will be plenty of airtime to fill, and these two will certainly break out the needle. Their caddies Joe LaCava (Tiger) and Tim Mickelson (younger brother of Phil) will be mic’d.
What’s special about the production: Drone coverage will create eye-popping aerial views of each shot, as well as highlight the golf course. The one-hour pregame show will feature Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson and Pat Perez. Ernie Johnson of TNT’s NBA coverage fame, will serve as the play-by-play announcer alongside Peter Jacobsen and Darren Clarke. Natalie Gulbis and Shane Bacon will be the reporters on the ground.
How to watch: The telecast will be available on pay per view for $19.99 and can be accessed through major cable providers including DirecTV, AT&T, U-Verse, Comcast and Verizon. Those watching in 4K need to pay $10 more. Bleacher Report’s social media platforms will provide some pre-match viewing for free.