Expert picks: Who wins The Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson?

November 21, 2018

The highly touted match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson begins at 3 p.m. ET on Friday on pay-per-view. We asked our experts two burning questions as we close in on the opening tee shots at Shadow Creek. Join the conversation by tweeting us your picks at @golf_com.

Who will win, Tiger or Phil?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer (@AlanShipnuck): Phil. Tiger is an introvert and a grinder — he’s trying hard, but this isn’t his kind of deal. Mickelson is a showman who thrives on action, and match play is a better fit for his all-or-none game.

Rachel Bleier, social media editor (@Rocky_Bleier): Tiger — he didn’t come back to get his 80th win to lose to Phil in a head-to-head match. He’s here to win.

Alan Bastable, managing editor, digital (@alan_bastable): Tiger. When asked Tuesday about his being the 2:1 betting favorite, Tiger said those odds were about right. I know there was a lot of forced peacocking going on in the presser, but that moment felt genuine. It’s just like the old times: Tiger knows he’s better than his opponent, his opponent knows that, and Tiger knows his opponent knows that. I think I butchered that saying, but you know what I mean. Woods, 3 and 1.

Josh Sens, contributing writer (@JoshSens): Tiger. As much as I’d like to go against the conventional Vegas wisdom, which has Tiger as a 2-to-1 favorite, I just can’t find enough argument to go with Phil. Yeah. He’s the better smack talker. But Tiger is the better player in better recent form.

You may also like

Patrick Ralph, associate editor (@Pat_Ralph): Phil. It’s clear that Tiger owns several acres of real estate in Phil’s head, but I love Phil’s confidence and enthusiasm leading up to The Match. He’s going to be much more in his element than Tiger, and he clearly cares about it more. I think it results in a win for Lefty.

Jonathan Wall, equipment managing editor (@jonathanrwall): Phil. Lefty has been grinding and game-planning for The Match as if it were a major. He’ll trash talk his way to victory and cash those plus-money tickets at the window on the way out of town.

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor (@Jeff_Ritter): Tiger wins. I think it means more to Phil, but that’ll cause him to press and find himself a little out of sorts.

Dylan Dethier, associate editor (@Dylan_Dethier): Tiger. At a certain point this is (hopefully!) going to get very real, and when that happens the better player is more likely to win. There’s Tiger’s 14-1 playoff record. There are his ridiculous final-round leader numbers. But even if you dismiss those as ancient history, he has been a far better golfer of late.

Sean Zak, associate editor (@Sean_Zak): Phil because Tiger will be uncomfortable with being mic’d up (I cannot substantiate that claim).

Josh Berhow, news editor (@Josh_Berhow): Tiger wins, although Phil wins the award for better on-course entertainer, and that won’t be close.

Jessica Marksbury, multimedia editor (@Jess_Marksbury): Tiger wins, definitely. We finally got to see him grind this year, and he proved he can once again hang when the pressure is on. I can’t see him allowing Phil to steal his glory in Vegas.

Tiger Woods stares at Phil Mickelson during their Tuesday press conference for The Match.
Tiger Woods stares at Phil Mickelson during their Tuesday press conference for The Match.

What ‘Match’ do you want to see next?

Shipnuck: Tiger and Phil aren’t exiting stage right after this one – it’s their franchise, after all, so any future matches have to include them. So I’ll say Tiger-Phil vs. DJ-Brooks.

Dethier: Shippy’s right, these two will be involved…gimme a live draft, a bit like the NBA’s new all-star game. Each captain (Tiger and Phil) picks three teammates. Each team of four forms two alternate shot pairs and switches partners every six holes. Confused? Me too. But I wanna see how that draft goes down.

Bleier: I’d like to see all of the guys who’ve held the No. 1 spot over the past couple of months go head to head: DJ vs. Brooks vs. JT vs. Justin Rose.

Bastable: Bond vs. Goldfinger rematch.

Sens: Spieth vs. Reed. I’m tempted to say DJ vs Koepka, which would likely make for greater pyrotechnics. But I like the idea of this latent Good vs. Evil rivalry and it would be entertaining to hear a mic’d-up Spieth talk smack, in a Ned Flanders-swearing kinda way.

Ralph: Brooks vs. DJ. Let’s get the Bash Brothers together and settle their reported differences where it should be settled: out on the golf course. Add in both Paulina Gretzky and Jena Sims, and the drama is too good to ignore. And maybe we’ll be treated to another cringe-worthy moment between these two buds after their round like this one.

Wall: Steph Curry vs. Tiger. There isn’t a single head-to-head battle between Tour players I’d pay to see at the moment. Why not get Steph on the course and have Tiger give him shots. If we’re going for must-see TV, you might as well make it interesting. Plus, Steph is a household name who would bring in the non-golf crowd.

Ritter: I can’t imagine this franchise continues without Tiger involved one way or another, so for the next edition let’s end the contrived one-liners and have TW go head-to-head against the Godfather of smack talk: MJ.

Zak: Reed vs. Spieth. Too bad only half of that hypothetical match actually wants it to happen.

Berhow: Let’s add some star power from the women’s game. Give me Tiger and Michelle Wie vs. Phil and Lexi Thompson: six holes foursomes, six fourballs and six scramble.

Marksbury: Do you think anyone would tune in to watch a couple of no-name 20-handicappers battle it out for a million dollars? I would! Aside from that, I love the idea of involving some stars from the women’s game, like Lexi and Michelle, Ariya and Inbee. I also think any European player — Poulter, Rory — facing Patrick Reed would be entertaining. And for something a little off the wall, how about Steph Curry-Tony Romo?