2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: Trash Talk
Harry How/Getty Images for The Match
Mickelson gets off to the better start.
There’s a great story from Sunday of the 2001 Masters, one of only three previous major championship final rounds during which Tiger and Phil were paired — and the only one in which one of them wound up winning.
There hadn’t been much talking between the two on that day, each one focused on the task at hand. Finally, after Woods outdrove Mickelson with a 3-wood on both the 13th and 14th holes, Mickelson decided to engage him and asked a question.
“Do you always hit a 3-wood that far?” he asked his playing partner.
“No,” answered Woods, “I usually hit it a bit further.”
With that, he just kept on walking. About an hour later, he’d clinched the final leg of the Tiger Slam.
On this day, though, there would be a lot more interaction between the two of them. You notice it right away. When Mickelson makes his birdie putt, extending his lead to two over Woods, he hustles a bit toward the second tee, catching up to his playing partner and saying, “Whatever works best is fine with me, Tiger. Cash, check, Venmo, whatever. And let me know if you need some time to pay. I totally understand.”
That is some Floyd Mayweather-level trash talk, but Woods just soaks it in and accepts it. That is, until Mickelson finishes.
“Hey, Phil,” he says, pausing a second to ensure he’s got his full attention. “I’m pissed.”
The bet is officially pressed, which will become a recurring theme throughout the day.
When Woods takes the lead on 5, Mickelson says, “I’m pissed.”
When Mickelson regains the lead on 9, Woods goes for the one-word version: “Pissed.”
Back and forth they go, trash-talking and pressing in the final round of a major while they start to pull away from the rest of the field.
On 14, after Mickelson belts driver 20 yards past Woods’ 3-wood, they walk down the fairway and Phil poses a question he’s been waiting 19 years to ask: “Do you always hit a 3-wood that short?”
Woods immediately catches the reference, breaking character for a split-second with a quick giggle, and then goes back to business as usual. If they do indeed finish 1-2 on the leaderboard, with all of the presses in action, there could be close to that $9 million payout from “The Match” exchanging hands today – only it’s their own money this time.