GOLF: Tiger, Phil eye $10 million TV match shootout

Published 11:57 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Several high-interest events remain on the golf calendar for 2018. There’s the British Open next week at Carnoustie. The PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis. The Fed Ex Cup playoffs in New York, Boston, Chicago and Atlanta. The Ryder Cup in France.

Oh, yes, and there’s the probable Tiger-Phil money grab in Las Vegas at a date to be determined.

For those who haven’t heard of the latter, that one is somewhere in limbo between fantasy and reality. We’re talking a winner-take-all TV shootout for $10 million in Sin City that was supposed to have already happened.

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For whatever reason, it didn’t come off as expected. Some have suggested Mickelson’s brain-dead rules violation in the U.S. Open, and the intense criticism of him that followed, may have stalled final negotiations.

Admittedly, that is mostly speculation.

Mickelson was recently quoted as saying he thought it was a done deal for July 3, but that now organizers are searching for another date. About all Tiger has said is that he’s willing to play for “whatever amount makes Mickelson uncomfortable.”

That remark would appear to indicate the one-time arch-rivals, whose relationship appears to have thawed of late, might be putting up their own money. Chances of that actually happening, however, seem highly remote. Why put up your own money when somebody else is willing to write the check?

If such a challenge match does become reality, and odds are still said to be favorable, it won’t be something new for golf. In any attempt to cash in on Tiger’s drawing power, seven consecutive made-for-TV showdowns were arranged between 1999 and 2005.

An eighth took place in China in 2012, pitting Tiger against Rory McIlroy.

For a couple of years, the matches drew boffo TV ratings. The inauguaral one, matching Tiger with David Duval, then No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, drew a higher rating (6.9) than any golf event in 1999 but the final round of the Masters.

It was even better in 2000, when a duel between Woods and Sergio Garcia pulled a 7.9 rating. After that, with a change in format calling for Tiger and a partner — Annika Sorenstam, Jack Nicklaus, Sergio, Hank Kuehne and John Daly — battling two other players, the ratings started going down.

Following a 2005 match, with Mickelson and Retief Goosen defeating Tiger and Daly 5&3 in a ho-hum affair, made-for-TV golf went away until being revived for one year in 2012.

Now, thanks mostly to the fascination with Woods’ latest comeback, it appears to be resurfacing.

One of the major networks is reportedly a part of the talks. Tiger, as so many declare, moves the ratings needle. It is difficult, though, to assess how much interest there will be in a match between he and Mickelson. Especially since all the animosity between the two looks to have melted.

CHIP SHOTS: Andrew Landry has moved up to first alternate for next week’s British Open and fully expects to get into the field at Carnoustie. The PN-G ex is so confident of getting in, he’s packed and will be taking the Sunday-night charter to Scotland provided by officials at the John Deere Classic.

Landry could remove all doubt about the British Open by finishing in the top four at the John Deere among players not already qualified. He doesn’t have to finish fourth or better either, but does have to be at least 12th.

He could, however, know his fate as early as Friday. That’s the deadline for injured players to withdraw, and for older past champions to announce if they intend to play. Landry says he knows four players eligible for the British Open who have made injury withdrawls from this week’s Scottish Open.

It would be his first time to play golf in Scotland . . .

Butch Landry of Lumberton was extra glad he decided to play at Babe Zaharias Tuesday, despite extremely wet conditions. Landry walked away with his second ever hole-in-one, after sinking a 9-iron from 117 yards on No. 2 The shot was witnessed by Murphy DeMarcay . . .

Congratulations to former Little Cypress-Mauriceville star Lauren Cox, a former winner of the Babe Zaharias Player of the Year Award. Cox, after posting a team low scoring average of 75.18 during her junior season at North Texas, recently qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

The UNT junior earned her spot by shooting a one-under-par 70 to finish second in a qualifier at Sweetwater Country Club. The U.S. Women’s Amateur will be played Aug. 6-12 at The Golf Club in Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

On top of her golf success, Cox was named an All-American Scholar by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association. A minimum GPA of 3.50 was required for selection . . .

The PGA Tour has announced its 2018-19 schedule. Major changes include the PGA Championship being moved from August to May, the Players Championship moving to mid March from May and the Fed Ex Cup playoffs being cut from four events to three.

There will be no Houston Open in the 2018-19 season. An event that had been played continuously since 1946 returns for the 2019-20 season with a fall date. Under the leadership of Astros owner Jim Crane, it is set for two years at the Golf Club of Houston, then is expected to move to Memorial Park.

Crane has a five-year agreement with the PGA. Anticipation is that the Houston Open will move back to a spring date after two or three years in the fall . . .

Heavy rains of the past week limited the daily senior games at Babe Zaharias to Friday and Saturday.

In the Saturday Super Senior 2 ball, the team of Rick Pritchett, Bim Morrow, Tom LeTourneau and a ghost player won the front with minus 7. On the back, the team of Bob West, Harry Green, Don Duplan and Cole Lee won with minus 2.

The Friday 2 ball saw the team of West, Harrell Guidry, Pete Reobroi and Rusty Hicks take the front with minus 1. On the back, plus 1 won for the team of Cap Hollier, Morrow, Ron Mistrot and a ghost player . . .

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