Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods on the first tee during The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course.

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Liguori: 'The Match' Fails To Live Up To Hype

Ann Liguori
November 26, 2018 - 4:35 pm

'The Match,’ the Tiger Woods - Phil Mickleson pay-per-view, or in most cases as it came to be, a free-per-view, showdown in Las Vegas last Friday was a bust.

I was willing to give it a chance, only because I was able to watch it for free on B/R Live from the passenger seat of the car on the way to my family’s annual Thanksgiving get-together. Chalk that up to a technical glitch on their part, and refunds to those who did pay are reportedly in the works.

I had previously decided that the match was not going to be compelling enough based on the fact that the $9 million winner-take-all prize money wasn’t coming out of the losing player’s pocket. It was too commercial — all for profit, with the exception of the side bets going to each player’s charity, which was a positive.

I figured no matter how passionate one is about golf and these two legends, the format needed some work. Playing with their own money on the line would have added an extra element of tension. Nine million dollars is not a lot of money for either of these mega-rich stars. But perhaps knowing that if you lose, the winner would get $9 million from the other's pocket, plus bragging rights, could have possibly added more electricity to ‘The Match.’

But as it turned out, the golf was terrible. Tiger seemed as flat as he was this past September at the Ryder Cup, where he was winless in all four of the matches he played  and didn’t look happy to be there. Any semblance of the game he displayed when he won the Tour Championship in Atlanta this past September, his 80th career title, was no where to be found. What a rousing victory that was after a compelling comeback that started last December after his fourth back surgery.  On Friday though, the legend’s game looked miles away from the form that he crescendoed to a few months ago.

Phil Mickelson, winner of 43 PGA Tour titles, with his last victory coming this past March at the 2018 World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, hasn’t looked like the Phil of ‘ol in months. Phil was winless in the two matches he played at the Ryder Cup, complaining about the narrow fairways and high rough at Le Golf National.

Based on their horrendous combined 0-6 performance for the American team at the Ryder Cup, you figured they would have both been more than eager to unleash and show off their extraordinary skills. But good shots from both players during ‘The Match’ were few and far-between. Most good amateurs find the green more than they did on the front nine. Phil won four holes in regulation, three of which Tiger bogied. They both missed short putts. 

The banter between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, which is probably what many tuned in to hear, was infrequent and uninspiring. Both players were mic’d but heavy breathing dominated the audio.

The production wasn’t the best. At times, the camera didn’t follow the shot. Insignificant stats were flashed on-screen.

Darren Clarke was a breath of fresh air. He sounded the most prepared and added insight. And Charles Barkley spoke the truth when he shared that even he could have beaten both players that day.

But the up-dates from Adam Lefkoe on the betting lines were annoying. I know the match took place in Vegas and Lefkoe sounds articulate enough, but was the target audience for this heavy gamblers? Perhaps!

All in all, despite ‘The Match’ featuring two of the biggest stars in the game, the concept, production and most of all their performances contributed to a way ‘over par’ disappointment. By the way, Mickelson won, beating Tiger on the 22nd hole, under lights. But by then, was anyone still awake?

Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori.​