With any good heavyweight boxing match, each side needs to take the stage ahead of time to talk a certain amount of smack toward their opponent.
The heavyweight golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson is no different, right down to the end of presser staredown.
Tuesday afternoon ahead of their battle for a $9 million winner-takes-all prize this Friday at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Tiger and Phil addressed the media and each other with a preview of what we'll be able to hear on the course.
Here are five things we learned from the press conference that have us most excited to grab some Thanksgiving leftovers and tune in and see what these legends of the game have in store for us:
1. Phil is looking for 20+ years of payback
From junior golf to majors and even the course record at Shadow Creek, Tiger has been leap-frogging Phil's records. As Phil said about his goal for this match, "I want to sit in the champions' locker room at Augusta and talk smack." We imagine there will be a few other Masters champions looking forward to how this plays out and witnessing that conversation in April.
2. "U.S. Opens."
Phil mentioned some of the wins he has on Tiger and in particular the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Tiger, of course, holds the overall edge with wins and majors. But instead of pulling out the numbers 80 or 14, he went to the haymaker and just said "U.S. Opens." There will be no punches held back in this one. A strong burn and an early 1-up for Tiger.
3. The first side bet is on the table... for $200,000
Being the gambling man that Phil is, he naturally put the first wager on the table for $100k that he will birdie the first hole. Tiger's response? "Double it." Phil could be in an interesting spot down $200k and a hole heading to the second tee if he doesn't make birdie and Tiger does. A reminder here that all side bets are coming out of each player's own pockets and all money won from those bets are being donated to charity. Phil said they expect "six- to seven-figures" to be on the table by the end of the match.
4. Birdies are the name of the game
We got a glimpse into how the course is going to be set up and it should put a lot of pressure on missed shots. This won't be a U.S. Open setup. The tees won't be playing all the way back on several holes and these won't be Sunday pin positions. Tiger said, "You're looking at six, seven, eight, nine under par" to win The Match. So, if you like seeing birdies, there should be plenty of them, and any stray shots off the tee could give one of these guys a big advantage to winning some holes and a few side bets.
5. This is going to be a lot of fun
Sure, some of the banter sounded a little canned and Phil and Tiger going through the talking points of the broadcast wasn't exactly natural. But there were many moments where we saw the curtain pulled back on the type of smack talk we can expect to hear and the level of knowledge these two have about the game of golf. To not only hear the banter between players and caddies throughout The Match, but to hear how the minds of these golf icons approach the game will be fascinating and incredibly fun to tune in to watch.
The Match: Tiger vs. Phil is set to tee off at high noon (3 pm ET) on Friday and can be purchased on Pay-Per-View through AT&T's DirecTV and U-Verse, B/R Live and select local cable providers.
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