2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: The Match II
Harry How/Getty Images for The Match
Phil got the better of Tiger.
There are a couple of photos prior to “The Match” which are worth a lot more than a thousand words. One is of Tiger, sitting behind a pile of cash ostensibly valued at $9 million, forced smile on his face, as if to say, I wouldn’t be playing for all this money if I’d known someone was going to take a picture of me with it. The other is of Phil, sitting behind that same pile of cash, hands gestured in the gimme-gimme-gimme position, duck lips protruding, as if he was auditioning to become the whitest white man to ever appear in a rap video.
Clearly, Mickelson was more enamored with the idea of a 1-on-1 pay-per-view match than Woods, which might explain how or why he outlasted his opponent in four extra holes that afternoon.
There aren’t many victories Mickelson can hold over Woods’ head – just about everything he’s won, Tiger’s won, too – but “The Match” remains one of ‘em. All of which explains why Phil arrived early at the dinner, earlier than everyone else, and got himself ready.
When Tiger finally walked into the room, he couldn’t help but laugh when he saw Phil casually sitting at the table, buttering a roll while sipping on a glass of Cabernet, with $9 million in cash stacked up in a pile on the table in front of him.
“Oh, hi Tiger,” Mickelson said when he saw Woods. “What’s new?”
Eventually, the money was whisked away before the appetizers were served – only at Augusta National could $9 million be whisked away so swiftly, without anyone worrying about a single dollar going missing – but the story lingered throughout the week, leaked by enough former champions in the room that even the general public had now heard about it.
On Saturday evening, when it finally became clear that Woods and Mickelson would be playing in the final pairing together, the latter was asked by reporters about the legitimacy of this story.
“What happens at the Champions’ Dinner stays at the Champions’ Dinner,” he replied with a grin.
When it was suggested that they could play “The Match II” here at Augusta National the next day, he took the bait. “You know, I won the first one,” Mickelson said, “so I have a pretty good track record in this thing. If Tiger wants to play for a little something extra, I wouldn’t mind getting a chunk of that second-place paycheck, too.”
Apprised of those comments, Woods laughed. Then he got serious. “Look, he’s been wanting this for a while. It might be the last time we ever contend at the same major, because he’s so old. And if we’re talking track records, mine is pretty good here, too. So sure, whatever he wants to do, I’m in.”
Immediately, this conversation went from fun banter to potential reality. If Tiger wants it to happen and Phil wants it to happen, then they really didn’t need anyone to help make it happen.
As they shake hands and talk a bit on the first tee, you wonder whether this bet will actually happen.