As the 45th Players Championship gets underway this weekend in Florida, the superstars of the PGA tour are going all out for the unofficial fifth major.
Among the field of over 140 players are Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and the two most popular players in the sport in Phil "Lefty" Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Lefty won at TPC in 2007, Tiger won it in 2001 and 2013. And just before this tournament kicked off, the press started to wonder, is there a chance the two best golfers of the 21st Century could do a one-on-one head-to-head match down the road?
They were paired together (along with Rickie Fowler) at the this year's TPC on the first tee Thursday, but before the event started, the chatter began. Mickelson responded first according to TigerWoods.com.
“Now, I don’t know if he wants a piece of me, but I just think it would be something that would be really fun for us to do,” Mickelson said.
Woods responded later in the press conference.
“I’m definitely not against that,” Woods said, the Golf Channel reports. “We’ll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable. Phil and I have great banter. We give each other the needle. We always have. But I think our relationship has certainly gotten a lot closer with me being a (Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup) vice-captain the last couple teams, sitting there and having lengthy conversations with him about things. Not just the pairings but just about things in general.”
Let the games begin!
If this does happen, the time to do it is later this summer. Both golfers are getting rather long in the tooth on the tour, (Mickelson is 47, Woods is 42), so a chance meeting during a hot summer night with not much to watch on TV is crucial to capitalize on this. Plus, with the cache both golfers have, they can pick and choose tournaments to play in or not play in, so scheduling shouldn't be a problem.
As for the venue?
Hawaii or California would be the logical destinations. Putting it live in Hawaii at 8 p.m. eastern would be 2 p.m. there, and three hours back from the East Coast should it take place in the Golden State. Or maybe even an East Coast course, under the lights for 9 or 18 holes.
As for the network? Does one of the four major networks make an attempt for it? Summer sweeps are pretty much non-existent, so the big four (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox) might want to cash in on this once in a lifetime matchup instead of a rerun or a summer-only mindless game show or a cringe worthy reality show. Maybe even go the PPV route, like the Shaq vs. Hakeem one-on-one matchup in 1995 that never happened due to Olajuwon's back injury lifting weights to prep for the event. This a way to make up for it, in a way.
If this does happen, it should be one hot ticket. One that golf could really need right now.