There is nothing that furthers either man’s legacy in such a proposition, merely something green and papery that fills their bank accounts.
The shoot-out would have taken place last week if the deal had been signed off in time. It wasn’t, but if the dots can be joined it will eventually take place some time later this year.
It is hard to blame either for signing up – it would take a deeply puritanical strain for someone to turn down $10m to play a round of golf. But there is something unseemly about two very rich sportsmen (assuming Mickelson’s gambling and Woods’s divorce hasn’t wiped them both out) making themselves even richer.
In leaking the idea even Mickelson admitted the amount of money involved is “ridiculous”. The prize fund for the Open Championship – split between 156 players – is only $250,000 higher.
The idea of the made-for-TV cash-a-thon is not a new one.
The diamond-jumpered re-runs of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf in which top players from yesteryear go head to head on courses around the world are still airing.
The original show ran from 1961-70 before it was revived in 1994 for nine more years with Nick Faldo playing Greg Norman at Sunningdale and Jack Nicklaus taking on Arnold Palmer at Pinehurst for $150,000.
Decent money, but the Skins Game, a four-man event on the PGA Tour which ran from 1983 to 2008 after the close of the official season, was better.
Norman won $1m at the 2001 edition against Woods, Colin Montgomerie and Jesper Parnevick and in 11 appearances overall Fred Couples trousered $3.5m.
Woods also played in a lucrative annual knockabout in the US called Monday Night Golf between 1999 and 2005.
The first edition at Sherwood Country Club in California saw the top two players in the world – Woods and David Duval – go head to head. Woods won to collect a cheque for $1,100,000, with Duval picking up $400,000.
Sergio Garcia beat Woods the following year before the format changed to, first, a mixed event with Annika Sorenstram and Karrie Webb involved, and then a cross-generational challenge featuring Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino.
Different formats; common denominator cash.
Six years ago Woods lost to Rory McIlroy in the $3m Duel at Lake Jinsha in China which dipped golf’s toe into pay-per-view TV.
Now, it seems, the staged shootout is about to resurface again with the World No 20 taking on the World No 67 for $10m.
If this was about pure golf it should be the World No 1 Dustin Johnson against World No 2 Justin Thomas but of course it isn’t.
Woods and Mickelson, with 19 Majors between them, are not the pre-eminent players of the here and now but as arch-rivals and friction-heavy Ryder Cup teammates they have a bankable history. For most of their careers they could not stand each other but time and their fading powers have thawed that relationship to the point where oil and water felt able to play a practice round together ahead of this year’s Masters. The seeds of the venture were sown at Augusta.
A month later they were paired together at the first two rounds of the Players’ Championship where Mickelson – never one to miss a commercial opportunity – put the idea of a money game out there.
Sponsors and TV are interested apparently, but even with Mickelson dangling the carrot of both being miked up so the viewers can hear their trash talk I’m not.
Maybe if they were playing for their money….