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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 295
TIGERVPHIL...WHOREALLY CARES? H ERE’S a conspiracy theory for you. Phil and Tiger’s proposed ‘winner- takes-all-(of-somebody-else’s)-$10 million’ made for TV match is nothing more than a cynical money grab by two of the game’s most historically influential and already astoundingly wealthy individuals. News of the planned (meaningless) head-to- head encounter broke during the week and right from the beginning had the whiff of ‘let’s run it up the flagpole and see if it flies’. In a typically Woods-like exhibition of brilliant course management, Mickelson was sent out as the front man to pitch the idea while the 14-time major winner and his camp refused to acknowledge its existence. The reaction has been predictably mixed, some keen to see the two aging stars go ‘head to head’ no matter the circumstances while others (me included) find the concept demeaning. In the middle is a seemingly significant number who want the pair to either play for their own money (I’d watch that) or play for charity (noble, but a far less compelling spectacle). The seeds for this hit and giggle exhibition were planted back at The Masters when the pair first began their much ballyhooed bromance by playing a practise round together. By May the buzz of Woods and Mickelson being paired together for the opening two days of The Players clearly had somebody smelling the opportunity for profit and so this ill-conceived plan was hatched. “As I look at the cover of the newspaper and the pairing is on there, and the excitement that’s been going on around here, it gets me thinking: Why don’t we just bypass all the ancillary stuff of a tournament and just go head-to-head and just have kind of a high-stake, winner-take-all match?” Mickelson said in his pre-tournament press conference that week. Of course. Why bother with a proper tournament and 155 opponents when you can cash in on past glory and play 18 holes against one other for a 50/50 chance at $10 million? It’s clearly a great idea – if you’re Tiger or Phil. For his part Woods confirmed at TPC Sawgrass he was complicit in the planning with a frankly smug response when told of Phil’s challenge. “I’m definitely not against that,” he said with a smirk, “and we’ll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable.” If by uncomfortable he means a ticket in a two-man lottery with no entry fee and a $10 million first prize then mission accomplished. That’s a chunk of ‘uncomfortable’ nobody would turn down. Like fast food and lollies the appeal of this proposed ‘match’ is easy to see. But just like those treats they are not in the best long-term interests of the game. Only a handful of people stand to benefit from a Mickelson/Woods encounter and that is Mickelson, Woods and the TV types who produce it. The game deserves better and so do the reputations of two of the best golfers of their generation. Play golf, gentlemen. Proper golf. Against full fields of other good players where you can continue to build on your esteemed places in the game. Don’t turn golf into boxing because of the allure of easy cash which, let’s be honest, neither of you need. VIEW THE ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen.
GA Express 294
GA Express 296