SAN DIEGO — With golf continually searching for ways to make itself more popular, two of its greatest stars might have inadvertently hit upon a way forward as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are reported to be in negotiations over a $10 million head-to-head money match.
The veteran golfers, who have won 19 majors between them, were due to face up in a televised high-stakes clash in Las Vegas on July 3 before circumstances changed, according to a report by Golf.com.
But the 40-something pair are still apparently keen to make the logistics work for an 18-hole exhibition match, for which they would wear on-course microphones.
“We’re working on a different date,” the 48-year-old Mickelson was reported to have said Thursday. “I thought it was done for the 3rd but obviously it wasn’t.”
It’s unclear whether the players would stump up the money, or whether it would come from corporate sponsors, and whether it would go towards charities, but Mickelson added: “No matter how much money you have, this amount will take both of us out of our comfort zone.”
Mickelson said it could turn into a regular exhibition event — in the same way that top tennis stars play each other away from the regular tour.
“As we’ve developed a good relationship, we’ve started to collaborate on some other things that have allowed us to achieve things that we couldn’t do on our own,” Mickelson added.
“Like this match. I couldn’t do it on my own. He couldn’t do it on his own. But together, we’re [trying] to create something pretty special.”
The duo have been rivals for much of their careers, with Mickelson a long-time number two to Woods’ domination as world No.1.
Their relationship was known to be frosty early on as they battled for supremacy, but it has thawed in recent years as age and life experiences have brought them closer together.
They stunned the world of golf by joining each other for a practice round at the Masters in April and were paired together for the first two rounds of the Players in May.
With Mickelson’s first win for five years earlier this season and Woods’ resurgence from multiple back surgeries, the hype went into overdrive.
‘Whatever makes him uncomfortable’
In a press conference ahead of the Players, renowned gambling fan Mickelson called out Woods for a big-money match.
“The excitement that’s been going on around here, it gets me thinking: ‘Why don’t we just bypass all the ancillary stuff of a tournament and just go head-to-head and just have kind of a high-stakes, winner-take-all match?” he said.
“Now, I don’t know if he wants a piece of me, but I just think it would be something that would be really fun for us to do, and I think there would be a lot of interest in it if we just went straight to the final round.”
When told of Mickelson’s comments, the 42-year-old Woods smiled and told reporters: “I’m definitely not against that. We’ll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable.”
Woods has won more than $111 million in prize money on the PGA Tour alone in his career, while Mickelson has banked over $87 million on the US circuit.
Woods’ camp has yet to speak about the proposed match and did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.