BOSTON, Mass – Tiger vs. Phil a/k/a “The Match” lived up to its hype with Lefty coming out on top in a 22-hole thriller, even though it turned out to be five hours of the most unsuspenseful golf I’ve ever watched.
Who would have thought that the scheduled 18-hole match-play event between the two biggest, not to be confused with best, golfers in the world would produce such pedestrian shot-making and imperfect golf?
Overall, to sum up in one word I’d say the golf was “unremarkable” but the show was “great.” I’d give it a 7 out of 10. My expectations were set low like maybe 5 so it surpassed expectations.
It was $20 bucks well spent. I don’t care if the two mega-stars, whose combined wealth is close to $2 billion, keep the money or give it to charity. If you like golf like I do you were entertained, amused and amazed at all the flaws of the unique Pay-Per-View show.
First, the entertainment-value of the show may have been saved by the panel of self-proclaimed not-experts-in-golf: the immortal and overbearing Charles Barkley, actor Samuel L. Jackson, PGA Pro Pat Perez and Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe. They were all over the place with frivolous, silly commentary, telling tales out-of-school and reading Twitter postings from sports figures and celebrities from around the globe.
Ernie Johnson, best known for hosting TNT’s NBA studio coverage, served as play-by-play announcer alongside pro golfer Darren Clarke and Golf Channel’s Peter Jacobsen. Fox Sports golf reporter Shane Bacon and former LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis were roving reporters.
My report card: gives Barkley, Jackson & Johnson “A.” Jacobsen, Clarke and the rest deserve “C.” If Jacobsen and Clarke brought something to the table then I missed it.
Second, the betting action between Tiger and Phil was a bust. Phil lost $200, 000 on the first hole because he missed a 9-foot birdie putt. Phil won $300,000 on a closet-to-the-pin par 3 on the back side. But, one thing noticeably lacking on the front nine was birdies.
The two made a wager of $1 million on who could eagle the short par-4 seventh hole. Neither were close. What they should have done is wager $1 million on either of them making an eagle on any hole because the way they played it was never going to happen. No talk, no action.
Third, Phil Mickelson will wake up the day after Black Friday and have laryngitis. He talked, and he talked and then he talked some more. There was a lot of walking and talking going on and Phil knew it was his role to engage Tiger and the paying viewing audience at home. It was a show, he was the star and Phil reached into his bag of small-talk and rambled, mostly contrived gibberish to save the ratings of the show.
Phil easily earned best actor award in a simulated golf and entertainment broadcast, while Tiger captured best supporting actor in a role where all he had to do was show up, smile occasionally, show some personality and basically just don’t act like the real Tiger.
Although both succeeded in filling in long gaps with inane small-talk in walks between holes, “The Match” lacked the hype of trash-talk, digs and overt but gentle insults, which had been promised. I’d give this part of the show a 2 out of 10 if you were looking for barbs and cutting, funny one-liners.
What struck me as impressive about the telecast was how beautiful Shadow Creek Golf Club is. It’s a club of millionaires and billionaires so you know the place is 5-star but I want to play there someday.
So if you’re wondering if Tiger and Phil’s big gamble paid off the answer is a resounding yes. There’s always a huge financial risk when you offer a Pay-Per-View production but the two biggest names in golf and two of the most recognizable faces on the planet pulled it off. By the way Phil edged Tiger after four playoff holes in the dark to win the $ 9miillion winner-take-all prize.
In 2016 network TV tried to promote a match play between Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler but the match was scrapped for failure to secure sufficient financial commitments from sponsors.
In conclusion I see this Pay-Per-View match between Woods and Mickelson as a window into the future of sports television.
What’s next? I say bring on DJ vs. Rory! Call it “The Redneck” vs. “The Mick.”