​This was a match the world of golf has been waiting for. Two of the greatest golfers of the modern era faced off in the first ever pay per view golf event. Fittingly dubbed “The Match”, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods tee’d it up at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, a fitting city for this high stakes matchup. 

The Backstory

Phil turned pro in 1992 after graduating from Arizona State University where he won three NCAA individual championships and assisted in a team NCAA title in 1990. His first PGA Tour win was the 1991 Northern Telecom Open while he was still a junior in college. Having 49 professional wins to his name his career has been fun to watch.

After revealing a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis in 2010 and having two hernia surgeries in 2016 he looks back on form after winning the WGC-Mexico Championship in 2018. Mickelson has always been known for his wedge mastery and steady putting but has been known to be a little erratic with the driver in years past. 

Tiger left Stanford to turn pro in 1996 after being voted Pac-10 Player of the Year, named NCAA First Team All American and having an NCAA Individual Golf Championship to his name. After coming onto the tour his first PGA Tour win came at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational. With 107 total professional titles and multiple records it has been a storied career so far. It hasn’t been without injury though. With a knee surgery in 2008, and back injuries through 2014 and 2015 he has managed to fight back and get his career back on track with a win at the 2018 Tour Championship.

With both golfers turning pro in the 1990’s we saw two careers collide at their respective peaks. Battling it out to be the best in the world of golf it made watching golf in the late 90’s and early 2000’s interesting to say the least. The one thing we never got to see though was a one on one match play battle between these two titans of the game while they were playing some of their best golf.

That all changed with The Match.

How it played out

Before the event even started there was betting going on. With $200k riding on Mickelson birding the first hole. Although he was unable to convert the birdie putt the match started off with two pars keeping the match all square. Phil did take an early lead on the second hole with a very rare lip out from Tiger.

Mickelson was able to maintain his one up lead with steady driving and good iron play. His wedge game was middle of the road at best through the first six holes. But a bogey on the seventh after two un-Phil like

bunker shots led the match back to all square. The work he has been putting in on his tee shots showed on the front nine where he kept it in the fairway or first cut consistently.

Woods was a little off kilter in the beginning. After missing a short putt on the second hole his putter was off for most of the front nine. But the putter wasn’t all to blame, the driver was also a little inconsistent during the early holes. After getting the match back to all square on number seven, an uncharacteristic three putt on the eighth led to a loss on that hole and lead to the front nine wrapping up with Phil holding onto a 1-up lead.

So the front nine came in with some rather mundane golf but it was kept interesting by the match being close. Neither player really showed the opportunity to run away with the match. The first wager of $200k on number one swung Wood’s direction while a $100k bet on number five and $200k tossed up on number eight both headed to Mickelson.

The back nine became much more interesting even though the banter between both players was much more quiet than we all were expecting.

Phil maintained his lead on the tenth but was forced to convert an 8 foot putt for par to do so. Tiger then chipped close on the eleventh and Mickelson conceded the birdie to then end up missing his own 20 footer, squaring the match up.

With that momentum Woods took advantage of nice drive and second shot leading to a birdie on the twelfth hole. Phil hits his worst drive of the day which leads Tiger to his first time in the lead. But a side bet for closest to the pin on thirteen for $300k gives the advantage to Phil as he stuck it closer and runs in the birdie putt on top of Tigers par.

The fourteenth hole passed on by without anything lost or gained by either player although Tiger had a chance to convert a 10 foot birdie that ended up drifting to the low side of the hole. Coming into the fifteenth hole both players missed the green and were forced to get up and down for

​par. Sixteen was a driving contest with both Tiger and Phil blasting their drives down the fairway, but then both of them missing the green and scrambling to get up and down for par.

Seventeen is where the real action came into play. With Phil hitting it to twelve feet and Tiger flying it over the pin just off the back of the green, everyone figured the match was over. But Tiger chips it in for birdie just like we’ve seen him do in the past and Phil missed his putt to the bottom of the hole. The match was all square coming down to the eighteenth tee.

With Tiger in the fairway and Phil in the rough off the tee the advantage fell to Tiger. But after the second shots found their way to the green the tables had turned. Phil was putting from 32 feet and Tiger was off the back of the green. Woods gets up and down for birdie and concedes Mickelson’s birdie putt to continue the match.

They made their way back to the eighteenth tee. Tiger laid up so he could better attack the pin and Phil decided to go for it from 236 yards and buried it in the edge of the bunker short of the green. Phil splashed out of the bunker on the green and down the slope to about 32 feet while Tiger stuck his third shot to 8 feet. Phil putted up and his par putt was conceded, Tiger then missed from eight feet and off we went to the makeshift twentieth.

Teeing off from a putting green and hitting to the eighteenth green, the 93 yard par three ended up being played three times.

First time through Woods went long and bounced his shot off of a spectator, where Mickelson flew his past the flag but kept it on the green. Tiger chipped up to about 3 feet and Phil missed his birdie putt just below the hole so they both conceded went back to the makeshift tee box.

The second time through Tiger missed the green again in almost the same spot as he did the first time around and Phil stuck it to about 7 feet. Tiger chipped up just past the hole and Phil missed his putt and gave Tiger his

par putt so they could go around one more time and do it the right way.

First time through Woods went long and bounced his shot off of a spectator, where Mickelson flew his past the flag but kept it on the green. Tiger chipped up to about 3 feet and Phil missed his birdie putt just below the hole so they both conceded went back to the makeshift tee box.

The second time through Tiger missed the green again in almost the same spot as he did the first time around and Phil stuck it to about 7 feet. Tiger chipped up just past the hole and Phil missed his putt and gave Tiger his par putt so they could go around one more time and do it the right way.

Final time through Woods finally hits the green just past the hole to the left of the flag and Mickelson kept his accurate wedge game and spun it back a few feet to the right of the cup. Tiger ended up leaving his putt just short and Phil ran in his 4 foot putt in for the win and $9 Million dollar purse.

Considering his masterful wedge game we had our money on Phil all along and when it came down to it his accuracy from 93 yards and steady putting helped him put away the win.

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