Bragging rights will be worth more than the $9 million prize money to Phil Mickelson when he takes on Tiger Woods in an 18-hole winner-takes-all pay-per-view showdown in Las Vegas.
Ahead of the lavish showdown Shadow Creek Golf Club on Friday, Mickelson said the thought of forever being able to wave that cheque in Woods’ face was something priceless that left him giddy with excitement.
“It’s great to win the $9 million but I just don’t want to lose to him and give him the satisfaction because the bragging rights are what is going to be even worse than the money,” Mickelson said at a news conference on Tuesday to drum up interest in “The Match”.
“Every time I see you I want to be able to rub it in. I want to sit in the Champions locker room at Augusta and talk smack. I want that.”
That was about as close as Woods and Mickelson, two of the most fascinating and successful golfers of their generation, came to trading shots as they attempted to help sell the pay-per-view duel which can be seen for a modest $19.99.
Anyone expecting the sort of foul mouth baiting that is part of boxing and UFC promotions were left sadly disappointed as the news conference turned into a love-in.
The 42-year-old Woods and Mickelson, 48, spent so much time lavishing praise on each other that it was hard to remember there was time when they actually disliked each other.
Even an attempt to end the news conference with a traditional boxing nose-to-nose stare down ended in farce with neither man able to keep a straight face for more than a few seconds before breaking into laughs and a hug.
“He’s one of the greatest players to ever pick up a golf club,” said Woods, the winner of 14 major titles.
“Greatest of all time,” replied Mickelson, who has five majors in his trophy case.
The showdown will be highlighted by several side bets and Mickelson wasted no time throwing down the gauntlet by betting Woods $100 000 that he would birdie the first hole.
Woods took the bait but not before upping the ante, telling Mickelson, “Why not $200 000”.
“So you think you can make birdie on the first hole,” said Woods smiling. “Double it.”
With the deck stacked this way, the Thanksgiving holiday clash can’t come soon enough…