The highly touted match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson begins at 3 p.m. ET on Friday on pay-per-view. We asked our experts two burning questions as we close in on the opening tee shots at Shadow Creek. Join the conversation by tweeting us your picks at @golf_com.
Who will win, Tiger or Phil?
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer (@AlanShipnuck): Phil. Tiger is an introvert and a grinder — he’s trying hard, but this isn’t his kind of deal. Mickelson is a showman who thrives on action, and match play is a better fit for his all-or-none game.
Rachel Bleier, social media editor (@Rocky_Bleier): Tiger — he didn’t come back to get his 80th win to lose to Phil in a head-to-head match. He’s here to win.
Alan Bastable, managing editor, digital (@alan_bastable): Tiger. When asked Tuesday about his being the 2:1 betting favorite, Tiger said those odds were about right. I know there was a lot of forced peacocking going on in the presser, but that moment felt genuine. It’s just like the old times: Tiger knows he’s better than his opponent, his opponent knows that, and Tiger knows his opponent knows that. I think I butchered that saying, but you know what I mean. Woods, 3 and 1.
Josh Sens, contributing writer (@JoshSens): Tiger. As much as I’d like to go against the conventional Vegas wisdom, which has Tiger as a 2-to-1 favorite, I just can’t find enough argument to go with Phil. Yeah. He’s the better smack talker. But Tiger is the better player in better recent form.
Patrick Ralph, associate editor (@Pat_Ralph): Phil. It’s clear that Tiger owns several acres of real estate in Phil’s head, but I love Phil’s confidence and enthusiasm leading up to The Match. He’s going to be much more in his element than Tiger, and he clearly cares about it more. I think it results in a win for Lefty.
Jonathan Wall, equipment managing editor (@jonathanrwall): Phil. Lefty has been grinding and game-planning for The Match as if it were a major. He’ll trash talk his way to victory and cash those plus-money tickets at the window on the way out of town.
Jeff Ritter, digital development editor (@Jeff_Ritter): Tiger wins. I think it means more to Phil, but that’ll cause him to press and find himself a little out of sorts.
Dylan Dethier, associate editor (@Dylan_Dethier): Tiger. At a certain point this is (hopefully!) going to get very real, and when that happens the better player is more likely to win. There’s Tiger’s 14-1 playoff record. There are his ridiculous final-round leader numbers. But even if you dismiss those as ancient history, he has been a far better golfer of late.
Sean Zak, associate editor (@Sean_Zak): Phil because Tiger will be uncomfortable with being mic’d up (I cannot substantiate that claim).
Josh Berhow, news editor (@Josh_Berhow): Tiger wins, although Phil wins the award for better on-course entertainer, and that won’t be close.
Jessica Marksbury, multimedia editor (@Jess_Marksbury): Tiger wins, definitely. We finally got to see him grind this year, and he proved he can once again hang when the pressure is on. I can’t see him allowing Phil to steal his glory in Vegas.
What ‘Match’ do you want to see next?
Shipnuck: Tiger and Phil aren’t exiting stage right after this one – it’s their franchise, after all, so any future matches have to include them. So I’ll say Tiger-Phil vs. DJ-Brooks.
Dethier: Shippy’s right, these two will be involved…gimme a live draft, a bit like the NBA’s new all-star game. Each captain (Tiger and Phil) picks three teammates. Each team of four forms two alternate shot pairs and switches partners every six holes. Confused? Me too. But I wanna see how that draft goes down.
Bleier: I’d like to see all of the guys who’ve held the No. 1 spot over the past couple of months go head to head: DJ vs. Brooks vs. JT vs. Justin Rose.
Bastable: Bond vs. Goldfinger rematch.
Sens: Spieth vs. Reed. I’m tempted to say DJ vs Koepka, which would likely make for greater pyrotechnics. But I like the idea of this latent Good vs. Evil rivalry and it would be entertaining to hear a mic’d-up Spieth talk smack, in a Ned Flanders-swearing kinda way.
Ralph: Brooks vs. DJ. Let’s get the Bash Brothers together and settle their reported differences where it should be settled: out on the golf course. Add in both Paulina Gretzky and Jena Sims, and the drama is too good to ignore. And maybe we’ll be treated to another cringe-worthy moment between these two buds after their round like this one.
Wall: Steph Curry vs. Tiger. There isn’t a single head-to-head battle between Tour players I’d pay to see at the moment. Why not get Steph on the course and have Tiger give him shots. If we’re going for must-see TV, you might as well make it interesting. Plus, Steph is a household name who would bring in the non-golf crowd.
Ritter: I can’t imagine this franchise continues without Tiger involved one way or another, so for the next edition let’s end the contrived one-liners and have TW go head-to-head against the Godfather of smack talk: MJ.
Zak: Reed vs. Spieth. Too bad only half of that hypothetical match actually wants it to happen.
Berhow: Let’s add some star power from the women’s game. Give me Tiger and Michelle Wie vs. Phil and Lexi Thompson: six holes foursomes, six fourballs and six scramble.
Marksbury: Do you think anyone would tune in to watch a couple of no-name 20-handicappers battle it out for a million dollars? I would! Aside from that, I love the idea of involving some stars from the women’s game, like Lexi and Michelle, Ariya and Inbee. I also think any European player — Poulter, Rory — facing Patrick Reed would be entertaining. And for something a little off the wall, how about Steph Curry-Tony Romo?