Tiger Woods calls bets integral to golf before $9 million duel with Phil Mickelson

In almost every way, this week’s $9 million showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be a wild departure from golf’s traditions. In its embrace of on-course gambling, the broadcast may actually bring it closer.

Throughout the 18-hole showdown, Woods and Mickelson will be making various side bets, or “challenges” with one another. For example, can Tiger save par from that bunker, or can Phil sink that putt? Unlike the prize purse, the money wagered will come out of the players’ pockets, and winnings will be donated to charity.

The first bet has already been placed — $200,000 that Mickelson will birdie the first hole. Mickelson offered to put up $100,000 that he’d birdie the hole and Woods responded, “double it.” Speaking with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday, both golfers discussed their familiarity with gambling. Mickelson said side bets are good for training by simulating pressure. Woods called it “an integral part of the game.”

“We’ve always embraced it, Phil and I, in how we’ve taken chances on a golf course,” Woods said. “Whether it’s a weekend round with our buddies or a practice round out on tour, we’re always trying to have a little bit of an edge and have a bit of fun out there.”

The Nov. 23 event will cost $19.99, and will be available all around the AT&T Inc. ecosystem, including DirecTV, U-verse, and Turner Broadcasting’s streaming service B/R Live. Other cable and satellite operators distributing the event in the U.S. include Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and Altice. Approved by the PGA Tour, the telecast will feature a number of new concepts, including coverage from drones, mics on both players at all times, and no fans on the course.

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