Tiger Woods vs Phil Mickelson – the key questions answered: Format, prize money, how to watch it, and should you?

Phil Casey

Tiger Woods will take on old foe Phil Mickelson in a winner-takes-all exhibition match for a purse worth $9m (£7m) in Las Vegas on 23 November.

The event has split opinion, with plenty of fans excited about the idea of two of the modern greats going toe to toe but with some sceptical of two extremely rich golfers playing for a sponsor’s prize money.

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Details remain sketchy but it is understood ‘The Match’ will take place at Shadow Creek, where side bets will also be placed between the players which will go to charity.

Here, some of the key questions about the contest are answered.

How did this come about?

The possibility of a contest between the former Ryder Cup team-mates has been mooted since the Players Championship in May, when they played the first two rounds at Sawgrass in the same group. Mickelson told his pre-tournament press conference that the excitement around the pairing “got him thinking” about how to bypass the “ancillary stuff of a tournament and just go head-to-head and just have kind of a high-stake, winner-take-all match”. Told about the idea later, Woods said: “I’m definitely not against that. We’ll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable.”

What is the format?

According to Mickelson, the format will be traditional match play, although there will be “in-play” competitions like closest to the pin or longest drive. The two players, as well as their caddies, will also be wearing microphones throughout the match.

How can I watch?

The match will be broadcast on pay-per-view at a price yet to be determined.

Why $9m instead of the initially reported sum of $10m?

This is understood to be a compromise with the PGA Tour to keep it below the $10m on offer to the winner of the overall FedEx Cup title. PGA Tour approval will likely have been required as the World Cup is taking place in Australia over the same weekend.

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Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods will go head to head (AP)

Are they playing for their own money?

Masters champion Patrick Reed said in July that he would be more interested if that was the case, otherwise “it’s just kind of an exhibition”. But when asked by if he and Woods would be putting up the cash, Mickelson said with a smile: “I would hope for a sponsor.”

So why should I spend my money to watch if they are not spending theirs?

This is the key question and will split people into two camps. On the one hand, this is a potentially fun contest between a resurgent Woods and the popular Mickelson, two players with massive fan bases and 19 major titles between them. On the other hand, it is arguably a pointless exhibition between two 40-somethings with one win between them since 2013, who already have an obscene amount of money and are playing to win even more from a sponsor. It would have been far more interesting when they were ranked first and second in the world and were not so friendly.

PA