The Match Preview: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson planning big money side-bets


Phil Mickelson 'baited' Tiger Woods in to agreeing to the first side-bet of $200k as the pair revealed there will be plenty of money coming out of their own pockets in mutliple side-bets throughout the event

The much talked about showdown between long-time rivals Woods and Mickelson takes place at Shadow Creek on Friday, so both players sat-down for a press conference in Las Vegas - where it became clear the $9million pay-out isn't the only figure they'll be playing for. 

It was Mickelson who started the bidding, waging $100k that he would make a birdie on the first hole. Tiger immediately doubled it. 

“So I’ve thought a lot about this and there are spots out on the course that are some great spots for a little challenge and the challenges are coming directly out of our pockets, OK?” Mickelson said. “And I feel like the first hole is a great hole for me. And I believe – in fact I’m willing to risk $100,000 that says I birdie the first hole. So that’s how good I feel heading into this match.”

"You don't have to take it," he added to Woods. "You don't have to take it at all. But I'm going to throw that out there.

"Hold on, hold on, hold on," Woods replied. "So you think you can make birdie on the first hole?"

"I know I'm going to make birdie on the first hole," 

"Double it (the bet)"

"Did you see how I baited him like that?" Mickelson said with a smile. "YES! ($200,000) says I birdie the first hole."

Watch the full broadcast below

The pair were clear that the money for those side-bets was coming out of their own pockets, and refuted the idea that the event was just a money-making opportunity.

Instead, they view it as a unique experience that gives a rare insight in to the game. 

It has been a highly-criticised event thanks to the prize-fund, the lack of crowds allowed and the decision to make it pay-per-view, but both players - who will wear microphones for the contest - are hopeful it will bring a new audience to the game. 

"Hopefully, it will be received well by the viewers at home," Mickelson said at a press conference in Las Vegas. "It's a glimpse into the future of sports. We'll have live odds on screen so the viewers can place wagers, and they'll be able to hear all of the banter.

"It's a rare insight into our sport and I think people will want more of this in the future. If people don't like it, then it's probably going to be one-and done, but I think it will go down well.

"This event is designed to be a unique golfing experience for the viewer, with the insight, the drone coverage, the live on-screen gambling and the live microphones.

"It creates pressure for us, and an experience for the viewers at home that is totally unique. I think it will benefit the game, and we should attract sports viewers that we've never captured before in golf."

Woods added: "It's very different for golf. We'll be able to showcase our sport in a different light, with the different technologies we will be using. It's exciting for me and Phil and for viewers."

As for whether the pair are taking it seriously? You bet. 

"This is my chance," Mickelson said. "...after losing so many majors to Tiger, to get something back. This match is a very good thing for me. I've spent the last month grinding and working on my game every day.

"I have kept my game sharp, and it's great to have the chance to go head-to-head with Tiger and win $9m. I just don't want to lose, I want to be able to rub it in!"