American gamble: Tiger and Phil find a tough crowd for their head-to-head pay TV match By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports November 28, 2018 at 9:00 pm Golf is known for its well-mannered galleries, where volunteer ushers raise “Quiet” and “Hush” paddles and masses follow directions like well-trained retrievers. But it looks like champion golf hustlers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson found a much tougher crowd for their recent pay TV match at Shadow Creek in North Las Vegas.Phil Mickelson and Tiger WoodsWoods and Mickelson, multimillionaire superstars of the sport, were pounded like golf course gophers in the wake of their pay-per-view spectacle, which ended after 22 holes with Mickelson winning the $9 million prize. If the two men are to be believed, it was a winner-take-all match. The spectacle wasn’t an important sporting event, if there is such a thing. It wasn’t even an overly intriguing one. But if you’re a rabid golf fan, you probably found a way to watch it. Both men are well known high-stakes gamblers. I would call them degenerate gamblers, but they can afford their degeneracy. A 2010 bleacherreport.com article placed Woods and Mickelson high on a list of “The Most Degenerate Gamblers in Sports History.” Mickelson’s credibility was dragged through the bunker after he became entangled in an insider trading scandal with Las Vegas sports betting legend Billy Walters. Walters went to the penitentiary. Mickelson got a mulligan and went back to work as the PGA’s biggest star. Suffice to say that anyone who reads a sports page had to have realized just what they were in for when watching a golf match between Woods and Mickelson, two hall-of famers in a sport festooned with gambling pros. (I can only imagine how many times the great Pete Rose, who was banned for gambling on baseball, wishes he had pursued a career in golf instead.) With the connection between gambling and golf so well known, you would think fans and the press would have more of a sense of humor about the sporting crowd soap opera at Shadow Creek. But think again. From USA Today: “The event, which finished under floodlights on the 22nd hole at Shadow Creek Golf Club the day after Thanksgiving, was panned in many golf circles for being underwhelming, the most biting criticism directed at the players’ performance, the lack of betting challenges between the two, and the abundant voices announcing golf’s first pay-per-view.” Ouch. From CNBC: “Tiger and Phil match turns out to be a dud.” Perhaps, but according to published reports it drew a far larger paying crowd at $19.99 per subscription than anticipated. Despite reception glitches, refunds, and the mediocre quality of play by the stars of the sport, there was no shortage of customer interest. Golfdigest.com, which has skin in the game given its status in the sport, was far more understanding of the hustle witnessed by many thousands on the day after Thanksgiving. (It’s too late for turkey jokes, or I’d try one here.) The magazine produced a piece titled, “The 7 silliest complaints about The Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson” that cuts through the roar of whining that echoed through the sport’s normally docile fandom. The glitches were so profuse that Jay Busbee at Yahoo! Sports called the event a mess. He offered several ways to improve the next one – and you have to believe there will be a next one on the next slow sports day in America. (There are a few of those each year.) A favorite line from Busbee after Mickelson knocked down a putt to end the marathon trip to the dentist: “And we all left The Match feeling about like you feel after you drop off your cleaning: well, that’s done. “It could have been so much more – more fun, more interesting, more compelling, more strange, anything. It was a missed opportunity.” And he was right. But, if the money is right, there will be other opportunities. Contact John L. Smith at email@example.com. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.