The Match Doesn’t Deliver


The only thing I really wanted to know was who won, Tiger or Phil.

The Match Doesn't Deliver 1
We all know Mickelson won on the 22nd hole. Now Lefty will have some measure of satisfaction that he beat the greatest of his generation in a head-to-head, made-for-TV match. And, as he made clear, Phil will needle Tiger about it for the rest of their days.

But what was in it, this hyper-marketed match, for the rest of us, that being the golf world and viewing public?

Not much, according to the reports I’ve read and skimmed. The aging titans played like aging titans. The banter wasn’t that interesting, or was drowned out by the broadcast team. The pay-per-view technology was apparently a shank.

The Match had some people fondly reminiscing about the Skins Game, which died a natural death about a decade ago. The Skins Game was telecast over the Thanksgiving weekend and had some memorable moments, both of the tense and fun variety.

A week ago Golf Digest published “11 things you probably don’t remember about the Skins Game.”

One of those 11 things: the Skins Game was a ratings hit, as Golf Digest reported:

The Skins Game didn’t just promise big bucks, it delivered big TV ratings. In fact, it was the highest-rated televised golf tournament in 1986. Yep, even higher than a certain sixth green jacket win by a certain Golden Bear that year at the Masters. And for its first 10 years of existence, the Skins Game’s average weekend rating (5.65) topped that of the U.S. Open during that time. Why was this the case? Well, getting superstars to participate—Was that 1983 foursome of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Watson any good?—was a start. But yes, there was also the money, which leads us to …

The Match is over and I’ll give golf credit for trying something new. But in the end I think this was mostly about Phil. After all, it was his idea. There may be some redemption for him in beating Tiger Woods, something for his “mantle.”

For the rest of us, not much.

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Neil Sagebiel

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