Mickelson Shares Story Of Irritating Tiger

While the hype machine for The Match — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson’s one-on-one, $9 million, winner-take-all exhibition — has been in full force for months, now that it is less than 10 days away from the event, HBO’s award-winning 24/7 series gave golf fans the type of access that they’ve always craved.

The first episode, which aired on Tuesday night on HBO, featured exclusive interviews with Woods and Mickelson as they prepared for the Nov. 23 match. Aside from their preparation, the episode delved into the pair’s not-so-friendly past that featured some nice nuggets about past battles. 

Mickelson, an expert storyteller, shared an inside-the-ropes tidbit that up until yesterday was unknown to the majority of golf fans. In a segment discussing the few times over their 20-30-year career arcs that the pair actually went head-to-head, Phil shared a story about the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in which the two were paired together in the final round. 

With both in contention — Mickelson would actually go on to win the event — Phil took an early advantage by getting under Tiger’s skin on the very first hole.

“His partner that week was Tony Romo,” Mickelson explained. “And that night, before the final round, Saturday was a big dinner that Jim Nantz put on. And I got seated next to Tony, and we had this great night, had a lot of fun. But I knew it would bother Tiger that I had dinner with his partner. Tony knew this would also bother him too, so he said to his caddie, ‘Don’t mention that we had dinner last night. Phil, just don’t even bring up the dinner.’

“We’re on the first tee. I tee off. Tiger tees off. And I wait before I walk off because I want a distance between me and Tony so I could say it loud enough. So as we’re walking off the first tee, I yell out, ‘Hey Tony, Tony! That was so much fun last night. I loved the dinner. That was the greatest!’

“And Tiger goes — looks right at him. And you see Tony say, ‘There were a lot of people there, and it was a really big deal, big function. It was a random seating.’”

Mickelson would go on to shoot 8-under par 64 and win while Tiger would shoot 3-over par 75 and fall to 15th place. Whether or not Phil’s early-round jab landed and had an impact may never be known, but the story gave fans a little more insight into the lengths Phil was willing to go just to bother Tiger earlier in their careers.