It took 22 holes to do it, but after five long hours, Phil Mickelson was able to walk away with $9 million.
Mickelson beat out Tiger Woods in their highly anticipated duel, dubbed “The Match,” on Friday afternoon at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas. The event was a first for the sport of golf, as it was planned to be exclusively shown on pay-per-view for $20. But because of streaming issues, the latter half of the event was shown for free online.
The event saw the two longtime rivals go toe-to-toe for a $9 million purse and the chance to earn lots more thanks to a unique format that allowed them to make side bets for additional money (which would all go to charity). And these were no small wagers, as Mickelson quickly lost $200,000 at the first hole when he failed to birdie while trying to make good on a bet from earlier this week.
“That hurts the pocket!” Woods, 42, said as 48-year-old Mickelson just missed the hole while putting from nine feet away.
Though he didn’t get the start he wanted, Mickelson seemed to keep control of the match as it progressed, largely spurred on by his own steady performance and a lackluster one from Woods until he began heating up in the later holes. Mickelson also made $100,000 back at the fifth hole by landing nearest to the pin after being challenged by Woods.
At the seventh hole, Woods tried to increase his side bet lead by putting $200,000 up for whoever had the best score starting at their second shot. Mickelson tried to negotiate the terms, but passed on the wager when Woods wouldn’t budge. Turns out, the move paid off for Mickelson, since Woods took the lead after his next few hits.
The two golfers upped the ante as they approached the ninth hole by betting $100,000 to whoever could make an eagle (a score of two under par for a given hole). After both golfers hit impressive tee shots, Mickelson turned to Woods and said, “Let’s throw another zero on it,” pushing the bet to a million dollars — the largest yet of the match. But both players would come up short for their next shots and neither would win the wager.
Mickelson would go on to win a $300,000 challenge at hole No. 13 for landing closest to the pin.
Both players were squared heading into hole 18 (which was supposed to be the final hole) after Mickelson failed to birdie at No. 17. But that wasn’t enough to decide the match, and the two moved on to the 19th hole, where Woods had a chance to win with a putt that rotated away from the hole just a moment before it seemed to be going in. Mickelson, too, just missed a putt to seal a victory at the 20th hole, and the players moved on to hole No. 21.
At hole 21, Mickelson missed a putt once more, and Woods conceded the hole to move on to No. 22. Woods then missed a chance to birdie, and Mickelson capitalized on the error to win the match.
The face-off between two of the most popular golfers on the planet quickly became a trending topic on social media, but everyone was impressed by the performance halfway through the match. One critic was NBA legend Charles Barkley, who said he could beat both Woods and Mickelson if he were on the course.
“I just want you to know something, America. This is some crappy golf,” Barkley, who was doing commentary for the event, said on live TV. “Y’all know that.”
When told about Barkley’s comment, Woods shot back at Barkley, whose golf swing is famous for all the wrong reasons.
“Well, I like our chances of making contact [with the ball] more than he does!” Woods said while laughing.
Woods has experienced a career resurgence this year by earning his 80th career win at the 2018 Tour championship in Atlanta. Mickelson, too, has experienced a comeback of sorts after he nabbed his first victory in five years in March.