Tiger Woods no stranger to money games ahead of The Match with Phil Mickelson

Harry How/Getty Images for The Match

Tiger Woods no stranger to money games ahead of The Match with Phil Mickelson

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods no stranger to money games ahead of The Match with Phil Mickelson

LAS VEGAS – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson had just wrapped up a lengthy promo shoot ahead of The Match.

They were invested in a short putting contest on the practice green behind the clubhouse at Shadow Creek Golf Course and giving each other the business like they had been for several hours straight. There were wagers involved and it was perhaps the most on-brand afternoon of Phil Mickelson’s life.

This is Mickelson’s arena, the narrative goes. He’s the one comfortable throwing big cash around and talking an impossibly big game. The Mickelson gambling stories are endless and fitting for Friday’s $9 million match in Las Vegas.

What about Woods? Is he really that much out of his element?

Once all bets had been settled on the green, Woods and Mickelson chatted with a few reporters as they walked back through the clubhouse and into the locker room. An hour earlier they were just down the hall next to the grill room, staring each other down for something like a prize fight photo op.

What did they see?

“He saw a birdie on the first is what he saw,” said Mickelson, who has a $200,000 side bet with Woods on whether or not he makes birdie at No. 1 Friday.

“I saw someone sticking it in the water over there,” said Woods, pointing to a hazard.

A few minutes later, Woods was asked if he’s more comfortable with this scene than people realize.

“When it comes to competing and talking a little bit, yeah. I do this quite a bit, it’s just that at tournaments you may not see it,” Woods said. “I’ve enjoyed playing practice rounds and do it a lot at home. A lot of guys on Tour either when I lived in Orlando or now in Jupiter, we go out and play and there’s always some denominations involved, always needling involved. … There’s non-stop banter and always trying to one-up another and chide one another. And I’ve always enjoyed it.”

Mickelson, who spent a good part of the afternoon talking about Woods’ unique brand of trash talk, piped up.

“It’s an important part of competition,” Mickelson said. “You have to learn how to compete and play your best under pressure and that’s the best way to do it, to have money matches against other good players.”

Mickelson said Woods has to take a different approach to trash talk since the cameras are always on, so he’ll talk under his breath and say things only his opponents can hear.

Woods took a much-needed break from competition after the Ryder Cup and focused on getting back in the gym, working out often. Now he’s back in playing mode and said he’d actually considered playing here a few weeks back for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.

“I was close this year to teeing it up and playing (the event) again,” Woods said. “The more I thought about it, I just needed a little bit of a break.”

We’ll see where the game is at come Friday. Maybe we’ll see a different side of him too, one usually reserved for those within immediate earshot.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home