With Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and $9 million just over a week away, it's time to take a closer look at just what we're getting into next Friday in Las Vegas. The hype for this event has been a little bit hollow, even if it's.
I'm intrigued -- I think -- but I'm not sure I'm totally bought in yet (literally or figuratively). I'm also not sure what's going to convince me that I need to be bought in short of the two of these guys going out in a pair of 30s next Friday afternoon. With that as our background, here are eight lingering questions I have about "The Match."
1. Will the golf be good? Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson looked like honorary members of the 2018 Ryder Cup team in Paris rather than actual ones. Mickelson semi-rebounded a week later at the Safeway Open, but we haven't seen Woods since the U.S. got smoked by Europe. To be fair here, Woods was tremendous over the second half of the PGA Tour season -- five top 10s in his last eight starts -- but Mickelson hasn't had a top 10 since ... May. As with any golf event, the entire thing can be salvaged with terrific play, but I'm skeptical about whether that's even on the table.
2. The side money, whose is it? Apparently Woods and Mickelson will have some side betting (which will go charity), which I'm assuming will be coming out of their sponsors' pockets (all 129 of them). So if they're playing for somebody else's $9 million and somebody else's side money, will either of these all-timers have any of their actual cash at stake. Because that's the show I want to watch.
3. Will Tony Romo make an appearance?.
4. How will the fill time go? If you've ever watched the WGC-Match Play finals or semifinals, you know there's a lot (like a lot) of downtime. I've been led to believe that Woods and Mickelson will fill 98 percent of this with sick burns and the kind of trash talk we'll be repeating for decades to come. Given some of the promo videos and Twitter talk going into next week, I have a lot of doubt about that.
5. Can Tiger just be Tiger? On a related note, there is a zero percent chance we see "Tuesday money game trash talking" Tiger next Friday. His actual needling is apparently off the charts, but when you've lived with a camera in your dish for the last two decades, it becomes impossible to escape the persona you've built on the camera and meld it with the one you've built off of it, even if and when that's what everybody actually wants.
6. Good or bad atmosphere? One of the best parts of the Tour Championship was watching a few thousand golf fans march down the 18th fairway with Tiger. That won't happen at this event, and there actually won't be many people at all in attendance. That may or may not matter, but I do think that atmospheres translate on some level to television. At the very least they affect golfers and on-course play, which definitely translates to television. I don't know if this atmosphere will even be able to be described as good or bad. It might just be ambivalent, which also might be a good way to describe the entire event.
7. What if Woods Ames' him? You remember the match (that's the actual The Match). Stephen Ames yapped before the 2006 WGC-Match Play event, and Woods touched him off on the 10th hole. That's not going to happen here, but how awkward would it be if this thing ended after 11 holes? It would be like paying $20 for a Mike Tyson fight only to see it completed after 30 seconds.
8. Will the ratings lead to a sequel? No. 7 leads into maybe the thing I'm most intrigued by. The groundwork has been laid for this to be a multi-part series rather than just a one-time thing. I would be fascinated to see what each golfer is taking home outside of the $9 million and, more importantly, how many people pay the $19.99 necessary to view the event. If that number is high -- or higher than expected -- then I'd expect to see this concept milked for every dollar it's worth over the next few years.