Tiger and Lefty let it ride in Vegas

Jon Rahm will be watching tonight’s multi-million dollar showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, either in person or on TV, despite admitting the contest has come at least 10 years too late.

Woods and Mickelson will go head-to-head at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas tonight (8pm), $9m (€7.9m) going to the winner and the proceeds from lucrative side bets, including one of €175,000 on the first hole, reportedly going to charity.

The event is not open to the public, but is available to purchase on pay-per-view in the US, with both players wearing microphones so that viewers can listen to their interaction and further side bets.

Interest from fellow players has been mixed, with Justin Thomas saying there was “zero-per cent chance” he would be watching, while Rory McIlroy said: “Fifteen years ago, it would have been great, but I think nowadays, it missed the mark a little bit.”

Sixteen years ago Woods and Mickelson were ranked first and second in the world, but are currently 13th and 27th, respectively, have a combined age of 90 and were last seen together scoring no points from six matches at the Ryder Cup.

However, Rahm said: “I’ll be watching. I’m close to Vegas, it’s a four-and-a-half-hour drive, so I’m still deciding if I’m going to go see it in person or not, because I might make a joke with Phil and just tell him I don’t want to pay the pay-per-view.

“But I’ll be interested in watching and see how it is. I don’t know how it will be and maybe in the future I find myself in one of those, so hopefully it’s a success, but I feel like this match is 10 years too late. 

Maybe when they were both in their prime it would have been extremely amazing. I’m still not clear on the format and they need to clarify it.

“I’d be surprised if the match finishes before the 17th hole. If somebody has a really bad day they’re not going to finish on the 13th, two hours too early.

“The funny thing is that Phil can trash talk to anybody and back it up with his career accomplishments.

“The only thing he has on Tiger is that he won on the PGA Tour as an amateur (1991 Tucson Open), but I think 14 majors and 80 PGA Tour events are a lot more valuable than that.

“I think Tiger’s always going to have the upper hand on that and, knowing Phil, it will bother him that he’s not the man in power.”

Critics of the clash were given further ammunition yesterday when the players posed with their arms around a massive pile of money, with British Masters winner Eddie Pepperell labelling it a “putrid attempt at attention” and “pathetic”.

Meanwhile, Leona Maguire played just five holes before heavy rain forced play to be suspended for the day as she made her professional debut on the Ladies European Tour in the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España.

Playing alongside Women’s British Open champion Georgia Hall and defending champion Azahara Muñoz at La Quinta Golf & Country Club in Marbella, the Slieve Russell star, 23, was tied for ninth on one-under-par when rain stopped play due to waterlogging.

After starting with four pars, Maguire almost holed her 75-yard approach for an eagle three at the fifth, but tapped in for birdie to move into the red.

“I had a 12 footer for birdie on the sixth green when play was suspended, but there was a stream running down the green!” she reported. 

“It was lashing rain, the course is soaked and it hasn’t really got a break all week.

“The forecast is better for tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll get plenty of holes in, but it will be a race against darkness.”

Just half of the 96-strong field managed to finish their opening rounds before play was suspended, with Scotland’s Michele Thomson and the Netherlands’ Anne Van Dam firing three-under 68s to lead in the clubhouse alongside England’s Liz Young, who was three-under after nine holes. 

European number one Hall and the defending champion Muñoz were both on two-under-par after five holes.

After failing to earn her LPGA Tour card in the US, Maguire has a full card for the second tier Symetra Tour next season. 

She hopes to get LPGA Tour invitations, but has entered the Ladies European Tour (LET) Qualifying School in Morocco next month hoping she can earn her LET card, giving her more playing opportunities next season.

Final qualifying takes place at Amelkis Golf Club in Marrakech from December 16-20, but Maguire and her twin sister Lisa must first come through a pre-qualifying event in Morocco from December 7-10.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne are just two shots off the pace going into this morning’s second round of the World Cup of Golf at the Metropolitan Club in Melbourne. The pair’s 64 left them two shots behind leaders England, Australia, and Korea.


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