Mickelson wins $9m showdown with Woods under floodlights

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson with $ 9m prize money

Phil Mickelson claimed the $ 9m (£7m) winner-takes-all prize in a dramatic duel with Tiger Woods which finished under floodlights in Las Vegas.

The matchplay between the two Americans went to a 22nd hole before Mickelson, 48, sunk a four-foot putt for victory.

Woods, 42, chipped in on the 17th to stop Mickelson putting for the match, then missed a chance himself from eight feet on the first extra hole.

That led to a sudden-death play-off on a 93-yard hole which Mickelson edged.

With 19 majors between them and two decades at the top of the game, Woods and Mickelson are two of the most recognisable golfers on the planet and this head-to-head battle was the latest chapter in an enduring rivalry.

Playing under the lights was a suitably extraordinary finish to an event which, although lacking quality as a sporting spectacle, had promised to show golf as it had never been seen before.

“I’m just trying to calm down, my heart can’t take any more, it was such an incredible opportunity,” Mickelson, a five-time major champion, said.

“He’s the greatest of all time but to have a little bit of smack talk for the coming years means a lot to me because I don’t have a lot on him!”

‘#TheMatch – opinions divided’

‘The Match’ at Shadow Creek on Friday, was streamed on pay-per-view across the United States on Thanksgiving weekend.

Some felt it was a pointless, indulgent exercise which only served to make two of the richest players in the history of the game even richer.

Others believed it was a fun, entertaining way of showcasing the sport to a different audience.

Either way, it had people talking.

Soon after the players teed off at 20:00 GMT, the event’s promotional hashtag – #TheMatch – was trending both worldwide and in the United Kingdom on social networking site Twitter as players, journalists and fans dissected the spectacle whatever their standpoint.

World number four Justin Thomas, who is an American Ryder Cup team-mate of Woods and Mickelson, had said there was a “zero percent chance” he would order the match – yet ended up being drawn in.

Justin Thomas

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell was also watching the match unfold, although in one Tweet he said he needed “some wine to get through it”.

Graeme McDowell

Former Open champion Darren Clarke, watching in his role as an analyst on the American television coverage, conceded after 10 holes: “We need a spark, we need something.”

American basketball legend Charles Barkley, who apparently speaks from experience of his own less-than-stellar skills on the links, was less generous on the same show.

“This is some crappy golf,” said the former NBA star.

Charity bets have helped a lot of people – Woods

Woods and Mickelson challenged each other with charity side bets throughout the match, although the expected bravado and trash-talking did not materialise as many thought it would.

That started at Tuesday’s news conference when they bet $ 200,000 (£155,200) on Mickelson opening with a birdie on the par-four first.

The five-time major champion missed his chance and that meant Woods won the challenge with that money going to his chosen charity.

Woods could not add to the that total, however, as Mickleson won three nearest-the-pin challenges to earn $ 600,000 for his charities.

Neither came close to holing their second shots for eagle on the par-four ninth despite ambitious offers of $ 1m, while other flutters on monster putts and longest drives – both missing the fairway on the 14th – also proved fruitless.

“It was competitive but at the end of the day we’re going to help a lot of people out,” Woods said.

What else was different?

No spectators were allowed on the course, apart from a select band of family, friends and sponsors, meaning the only way to watch the matchplay contest in the US was to pay a $ 19.99 (£15.50) fee for commercial-free coverage on television.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect was hearing what the microphone-wearing players and their caddies had to say on their way round.

Initially it seemed rather awkward as Mickelson and Woods made small talk on the first hole, before the dynamic became more natural – and featured rather less interaction – as the contest intensified.

One humorous moment came after Woods chipped in on the 17th to turn what appeared likely to be a match-winning putt for Mickelson into a hole-saving one – which he then missed.

“You’ve been doing that to me for 20 years so I don’t know why I’m surprised,” a laughing Mickelson told Woods as they walked up to the 18th tee all-square.

Other gimmicks included betting odds being displayed on the screen to tempt viewers into wagering, with real-time, hole-by-hole statistics, displaying the probability of different outcomes, to help them make their choices.

NBA legend Barkley and Hollywood actor Samuel L Jackson also featured prominently throughout, with Jackson taking on the role of tee announcer at the start of the match.

And a strangely compelling night finished with the sort of drama which the organisers had been hoping for, with the players finally separated in what was effectively pitch and putt under the artificial lights.

Money and bragging rights - the PGA Tour tweeted this after Mickelson's victory

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BBC Sport – Golf

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