There’s $9 million at stake in The Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Well, actually there will be more.
As has been teased by Mickelson himself, side bets will take place during Friday’s action at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. (The proceeds from that side action will go to charity.)
In fact, those side bets have already started.
The pair participated in a news conference Tuesday ahead of the event. One of the questions was about whether the players have already considered strategy on side bets ahead of time.
Mickelson went all in on his answer, propositioning a huge side bet:
“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.”
Lefty coming out strong.
(For the record, the first hole at Shadow Creek is a 415-yard par 4.)
He wasn’t done. Mickelson then chirped to Woods about the proposed $100,000 bet: “You don’t have to take it. You don’t have to take it at all. But I’m going to throw that out there.”
How did Woods respond? This is a 14-time major champion, folks. There was a 0.0 percent chance he would back down.
From here, the exchange unfolded:
“Hold on, hold on, hold on,” Woods said to Mickelson. “So you think you can make birdie on the first hole?”
“I know I’m going to make birdie on the first hole,” Mickelson responded.
“Double it (the bet),” Woods said.
And we’re off. But Mickelson, ever the showman, punctuated this back-and-forth with a flourish.
After Woods’ “double it” comment…
“Did you see how I baited him like that?” Mickelson said with a smile. “Yes! ($200,000) says I birdie the first hole.”
Woods pointed out there’s water on the left side of this hole and left tends to be Mickelson’s miss. Mickelson then clarified that what Woods was missing was that he would hit a 2-iron off the tee, leaving him a short-iron from the fairway. Lefty further noted he’s a fantastic short-iron player.
Hence, he feels he “baited” Woods into accepting a favorable bet toward Mickelson.
“Part of it is strategic,” Mickelson said on side bets, “because you’ve got to get them to accept it. So you see how I subtly slipped that in? Yeah I didn’t know how I was going to do that, but I think I found the way.”
An unfazed Woods later reaffirmed the $200,000 side bet simply by saying, “Done.”
We’re three days away and already off to a great start.