Golf on TV: Mickelson hard sell: Buy ‘The Match’ or be hit with ‘FOMO’

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 20: (L-R) Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods shake hands during a press conference before The Match at Shadow Creek Golf Course on November 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for The Match) Harry How/Getty Images

Golf on TV: Mickelson hard sell: Buy ‘The Match’ or be hit with ‘FOMO’

Golf on TV

Golf on TV: Mickelson hard sell: Buy ‘The Match’ or be hit with ‘FOMO’

So now we know the real reason why Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are playing a $9 million pay-per-view match the day after Thanksgiving at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.

They’re doing it for the “FOMO.” They’re doing it for the fans.

Now, I’m embarrassed to say that all this time, I’ve been under the assumption that they were doing it solely for the money. I thought their only interest was in scoring a big paycheck for a few hour’s work.

Boy, do I feel stupid.

Fortunately, I have Mickelson to thank for setting me straight. Appearing with Woods Nov. 20 on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” Mickelson helpfully explained that the reason I should pay $19.99 to watch him play Woods Nov. 23 is because of the “FOMO” – the fear of missing out.

“The FOMO is real …” Phil said gravely. “So don’t let FOMO get the better of you. Watch.”

And what, exactly, would I be missing out on if I didn’t pay my $19.99? Mickelson, helpful fellow that he is, explained that I, and the other little people watching at home, would enjoy wondrous moments that we could never hope to experience while watching golf the other 51 weeks of the year. “The Match,” Phil assured us, would be different.

It certainly will be that. One of the oddities of “The Match” is that there won’t be any fans on the course. Now, me being a cynical journalist, I assumed this was because the organizers didn’t want to risk the possibility that Woods and Mickelson might be seen playing in front of only 30 spectators, the majority of whom would be family members, agents or sponsors.

Apparently I’m not the only cynical journalist. Like me, “PTI” co-host Michael Wilbon obviously didn’t grasp the grand and noble vision of “The Match.” Wilbon also wondered why there wouldn’t be any fans on the course.

“You two have drawn more people to this sport than Arnold Palmer in the ’50s,” Wilbon said, prefacing his question to Phil and Tiger. (Mental note: Golf participation has nosedived since 2000. But forget that, Mike, run with your question.) Wilbon continued: “Yet there are going to be no people on the golf course. … The last time we saw Tiger, it was like Moses leading the people up the 18th fairway in Atlanta.”

“Mike, get the big picture here for a second,” Mickelson said helpfully.

(Mental note: Phil is such a helpful guy. I felt as though I was learning something every time he spoke. He’s helping skeptics such as Wilbon and me see the big picture. Because, obviously, we’re not capable of wrapping our little minds around the big picture.)

“You’re going to see a glimpse of what watching sports is in the future that you can do with two people that you can’t do with a lot of others …” Mickelson told Wilbon.

Ah, we’re going to see the future. This is exciting, isn’t it?

“You’re going to hear banter from us,” Mickelson continued. “The reason it’s on pay-per-view is we wanted to get rid of the commercials so you didn’t miss out on the conversations, the banter between players and caddies that you miss on every other telecast. We can have that on an event like this. To inundate the golf course would take away from the experience for the fans at home and the viewers at home. It doesn’t make sense. This is designed to cater to those who are at home watching it and making it an experience that you’ve never had before on a telecast.”

Ah, the banter. I’m sure the banter will be memorable.

Of course, we had banter 31 years ago, back in 1987 at the Skins Game, when Lee Trevino aced “Alcatraz,” the 17th hole at PGA West. “You think that practice didn’t pay off?” Trevino chided caddie Herman Mitchell after his 6-iron dropped in the hole. Like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Fuzzy Zoeller, Trevino was wearing a microphone that day.

You know what else we had back in 1987? Spectators on the course. Lots of them. You should have heard the roar after Trevino’s ace. (If you’re interested, you can find the video here.)

But wait, that’s odd. Because Mickelson, who is such a helpful fellow, informed us that you only can have live microphones and “banter” when there are no spectators on the course.

Now that I think about it, though, the NFL and Major League Baseball, among other leagues, have been mic’ing up players and coaches for decades, in their biggest events, and it seems to work just fine.

How can that be? Phil insisted “The Match” would be different, it would be unique.

(Mental note: Or maybe it really is all about the money.)

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