It’s the second edition of a match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the dominant players of their generation and rivals by name, but not necessarily by record. Woods has 82 career victories to 44 for Mickelson, leads 15-5 in major championships and 11-0 in winning PGA Tour player of the year.
Mickelson won their first made-for-TV match over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, a pay-per-view event that ran into technical problems and was free for all. Lefty won in a playoff under the lights for $9m in a winner-take-all match. He also has a 5-3-1 advantage over Woods in the nine times they have played in the final round on the PGA Tour, most recently in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2012 when Mickelson shot 64 to a 75 for Woods.
He also stopped two streaks. Woods was going for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory when Mickelson beat him at Torrey Pines in 2000. Later that year, Woods had won 19 consecutive times on the PGA Tour when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead until Mickelson beat him at the Tour Championship.
Woods, however, captured the streak that mattered, holding off Mickelson in the final group at the Masters in 2001 to hold all four professional majors at the same time.
The banter was lacking in Las Vegas, and perhaps having NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will change the dynamics. The broadcast includes Charles Barkley providing commentary and Justin Thomas, whom Woods has embraced, on the course as a reporter in his television debut.
After this exhibition, golf has two weeks before the PGA Tour is set to return at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Mickelson plans to play. Woods has not said when he will return.