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Tiger vs. Phil: Money Is The Driver

So now it is official. Professional golf and Don King have a lot in common.

A few weeks ago, we told you of the winner-take-all match being planned by Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods over Thanksgiving weekend.

At that point, some the where, when and whys were somewhat sketchy, although it has been widely rumored that the grand prize would be a cool $10 million – tip money for both Tiger and Phil.

Well, now things are crystal clear and it may fog your impression of both golfers.

The match will be played Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. But it will not be televised by NBC, CBS, ABC, TNT, FOX, The Golf Channel or ESPN (feel free to add any of your personal favorites).

It will be a Pay-Per-View event, just like all those big boxing events King presented over the decades. You want to watch? You will pay for the privilege.

This is not an event. It’s a profit-making enterprise.

The event will be on Turner’s B/R Live platform, in addition to DirecTV and AT&T U-verse. Pricing has not been set. The time has not been, either. But considering the format, you can bet it will accommodate the Eastern time zone in some fashion.

On Wednesday, Mickelson made many of the details about the event public. According to, it will be 1-on-1 match play with a few wrinkles.

Mickelson mentioned “in-play” games – closest to the pin, best putt, longest drive, that sort of thing.  The players and caddies will be wearing microphones, so they can play the roles of Jim Nantz and Johnny Miller as they walk the course at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.

There is also the possibility the gallery will be allowed closer access, perhaps by lifting the ropes that generally contain it. Hopefully, someone will say something stupid like “Babba-Booie” when Tiger drills a tee shot.

“It allows us to be a little bit more real, if you will,” Mickelson said. “We think there will be some pretty good interest, but we’re also trying to present it in a way that you don’t get to see with normal TV.”

Also, the winner will only get $9 million. Apparently, that has something to do with a PGA rule which limits payouts to that awarded to the FedEx Cup champion.

“It’s an opportunity for us to bring golf to the masses in prime time during a period where we don’t have much going on in the world of golf,” Mickelson said at the Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey, where the Northern Trust Open began on Thursday.

“It’s a way to show a side you don’t normally see by having us miked up to hear some of the interaction between us.”

If you are interested in such things – and after all, this will be in Las Vegas – the Westgate Superbook lists Woods at minus-180 to win the event. Mickelson is at plus-150.

Mickelson supported the winner-take-all format.

“I think if you [don’t] do that, it undermines it. The whole point is the winner-take-all thing. That’s the exciting part about it.

“With only two guys, we should have a total different experience with fans, because we will have smaller galleries that won’t necessarily have ropes that can walk inside the fairway and up near the greens. We’ll have mics on both us and our caddies, and you’ll be able to hear all of the banter as well as commentating that will be more interactive.

“The idea is not just to have this great match but to have this interactive experience so fans can see something that they’ve never seen in televised golf before.”

What really seems to get under the skin, however, is that the kazillionaire winner gets to keep the money, as opposed to doing something noble like donating it to charity.

Hey, you have to laugh, right? The event is being billed as “The Match.” But as pointed out, the promotional poster developed for it shows  Tiger’s driver as left-handed, which he is not.

Oh well. Pay-per-view golf. Who thought we’d ever see this day?