A $10 million made-for-TV duel between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could take place this Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas.
The golfing head-to-head, which once would have been a real grudge match, took a step closer to reality when Mickelson told reporters it is likely to occur on November 23 or 24.
“As we firm up more and more details we’ll let everybody know, but right now we know it’s going to be Thanksgiving weekend for sure,” he said on Thursday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational event at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
Woods, 42, appeared to suggest the match was likely to happen, but said: “I haven’t signed anything. Nothing is confirmed. When it is, I’ll let you guys know.”
The former arch-rivals, who have won 19 majors between them, have become increasingly friendly in recent years and seem keen to instigate the 18-hole exhibition match for which they would wear on-course microphones.
The match was first slated for early July, before falling through.
The stakes will be high: The reported winner-take-all purse of $10 million would payout more than five times what Masters winner Patrick Reed received in April.
It is unclear whether the players would stump up the money themselves or rely on corporate sponsors — or whether each of their charities will be involved — but Mickelson recently said: “No matter how much money you have, this amount will take both of us out of our comfort zone.”
Mickelson, 48, has 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,” added Mickelson, who created a stir Thursday when his dancing in a video advert for his clothing line went viral.
“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, frosty in their primes, has thawed in recent years as age and life experiences have brought them closer.
They stunned the world of golf by joining each other for a practice round at the Masters in April, and were paired for the first two rounds of the Players in May.
With Mickelson’s first win in 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, 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.