One can’t help being intrigued by “The Match” a multimillion Dollar winner takes all shoot-out, between two of the greatest players over the last 25 years Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson taking place this weekend at Shadow Creek. The two great rivals have never been the best of friends away from the course and you can bet that with what is at stake this time around not much will change! Form Labs breaks down the much-anticipated clash with their betting preview and tips. If you are looking for some additional
Tiger Woods vs Phil Mickelson – ‘The Match’
With 19 majors and 123 PGA Tour wins between them, golf’s most recognised duo go head-to-head for the first time in their illustrious careers, but ‘The Match’ has had its fair share of criticism in the lead up. It’s pay-per-view and having initially been dubbed as a bet between the two, they’re not even playing for their own money.
There is also the fact that it would have been a much more intriguing contest had it taken place 15 years ago when there was a clear distaste for one another. Now both in the twilight of their careers, they get along and we’re having to make do with cringe-worthy trash-talk. Still it will be interesting to see how it is received among the golfing public, or more importantly outside the golfing public, so we’ve taken a closer look at who’s going to be the most likely winner.
Of course, a contest of this type is taking place in Las Vegas. Shadow Creek will host the 18-hole match, a course that cost $47m to build. Rolling lush green hills and canyons have been carved into the desert floor and you feel like you’re in the middle of Georgia rather than 15-minutes form the Vegas strip. There are plenty of hazards built in that challenges the players to find the right angles to play each hole well. Being wayward off the tee will be costly as many of the approaches must be carried all the way to the green, which can only be achieved from the fairway.
Tiger’s return to the top of the game even took the great man himself by surprise. Having barely been able to walk 12 months earlier, he showed his world-class form again from the US Open onwards. After missing the cut at Shinnecock, he produced form figures of 4-6-31-2-40-24-6-1, culminating in that victory at the Tour Finals. Although his driving isn’t what it once was, his iron play is a strong as ever as he remarkably ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Approaching-the-Green on the PGA Tour last season. With so much emphasis on the second shot at this course, it certainly plays to his favour.
Phil finished 30th out of 30 at the Tour Finals as his game dropped off a cliff in the second half of the season. His form since the US Open reads 65-MC-24-24-MC-15-12-38-30, quite the contrast to his opponent. He was then truly awful at the Ryder Cup, playing just twice and barely being able to keep the ball on the planet off the tee. Tiger was also pointless at Le Golf National, but he’d had an emotional victory just five days earlier and came up against the unstoppable force of ‘Moliwood’ three times, so at least had some excuses whereas Lefty was just playing poor golf.
Unlike Woods, Mickelson has played once this season, at the Safeway Open, and it was a carry on from the last few months. He ranked second-last for Driving Accuracy (41.1%) but was in the top-five for putting to finish 17th overall. Last season, he was 192nd for DA but was an impressive 10th for SG: Putting.
The form and stats stack heavily in Tiger’s favour with perhaps the putter the only area the Mickelson edges his old advisory, though Woods ranked first with the short-stick at the Tour Championship as it was improving with every tournament. The only thing in Lefty’s favour is that this is a one-off 18 holes, rather than showing consistency over four rounds, but with accuracy off the tee so crucial, we can’t see anything other than a Tiger win. Indeed, even if Mickelson is able to keep on the fairway, such is the strength of Tiger’s iron play, there’s only going to be one outcome.
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*odds subject to change.