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Golf news - Tiger Woods v Phil Mickelson match: Repulsive exhibition that trashes essence of sport

Woods v Mickelson: Repulsive exhibition of hubris that trashes the essence of sport

23/11/2018 at 07:22Updated 23/11/2018 at 07:56

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, two of the richest sportsmen of all time, playing for $9m in Las Vegas is as offensive as it sounds, writes Desmond Kane.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Apart from the $9 million (£7m) that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are playing for over 18 holes on Friday. That will be leaving Las Vegas. With one of the two richest golfers all time. Scrub that. Two of the richest sportsmen of all time.

Mickelson flop shots his way into the list at number six collecting a measly $815m during his gilded 26-year-old career.

Both men finished inside the top 15 in the US PGA Tour money list last season, and are the top two career money earners of all time in America. Woods has won $115,504,853 and Mickelson has earned $88,254,084.

For many observers, golf has always been a monument to snobs and new money. Now it has a game to go with it. And an image with both men posing in front of the loot like Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions.

I Need a Dollar, as Aloe Blacc sung in Vegas. Woods and Mickelson, with 19 majors between them, require $9m as much as Las Vegas favourite Elvis Presley needed a final trip to the loo in 1977. There is a bad smell off all of this.

Apart from Donald Trump turning up with a suitcase of Saudi cash to join the party, it is difficult to imagine how this can be more offensive, tasteless or risible (enter appropriate description in your own time).

One is right to ask: what is the point of all these classless goings on in Sin City in what appears to be a sinful exhibition of hubris?

Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course.

Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course.Eurosport

“Wouldn’t this match be a lot more fun if the $9m was coming out of your pockets?” suggested a photographer perched at the pre-match media conference for the much-maligned The Match. He was right. Unless all of it is coming from their billionaire back bins, who cares? Certainly the two players, otherwise this would not be happening if it had to be self-funded.

“Some of that is true,” replies Mickelson. “This event needs to be for a number that makes us nervous and makes as uncomfortable, and it definitely is that.

"Because of that, both the $9m we’re playing for and the million or two in side challenges throughout the match, makes it enough to make us both feel uncomfortable and to feel the pressure."

Which then makes you wonder just how much greed is permeating the contest? On pay-per view TV in the USA on Thanksgiving weekend, it is a matchplay contest that has been designed to seduce gamblers with live betting as The Match progresses.

Gamblers could lose big, but TV and two stinking rich men will lose nothing more than a golf game.

The two main protagonists will apparently give their side bets to charity: $200,000 has already been wagered on Mickelson failing to birdie the first hole, but why not give the whole lot away?

In keeping with the grubby theme, the winner should be allowed to make off with the cash in a black bin bag.

Wallowing in grotesque sums of the folding stuff built up through their talent and business acumen, they will probably argue that the game does not have an edge without a serious wager.

Why not then take it to the Craps table on the Strip? At least both men are being honest, they are doing nothing here to win a public relations contest. None of this leads to the Palace of Wisdom.

One reporter compared The Match to the latest in a long line of sporting freak shows to hit Las Vegas alongside Evel Knievel attempting to jump the water fountains at Ceasars Palace in the 1960s or cage fighter Conor McGregor facing Floyd Mayweather last year.

But they are not boxers, nor daredevils. There is no danger money on offer here apart from the thousands of watching gambling addicts who would bet on two flies climbing a wall.

It is a morally bankrupt match that destroys the Corinthian values of sport, but there are many more like it. The classless message it sends out to impressionable kids is clear: money is more important than love of the sport.

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A game of new money played by the nouveau riche in Vegas, a part of the world that is rife with poverty and destitution behind the facade of the bright lights.

In the land of opportunity, some will argue it is their right to live the American dream. Even if it is on someone else's dime.

For millions of onlookers elsewhere, it is merely a tragic event that is inherently more depressing than it sounds.

Desmond Kane

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