The Match (still a terrible uninspiring name for this thing) is just over a week away and the Hype Machine is cranking at full capacity. Last night was the debut of Tiger v Phil 24/7 on HBO.
The “24/7” part of this publicity endeavor is more than a tad misleading as it appeared cameras followed the two golfers for about 6 highly controlled hours on a random Wednesday. Not exactly the “all access” HBO promises but there were a few tidbits to be gleaned from the proceedings. 5 to be exact.
Hi-Top Top 5 Takeaways from Tiger v Phil 24/7
5. Tiger has Zero Friends
While Phil jetted of to Vegas with a private plane full of buddies (more on that in a tick, as the Brits say) Tiger was followed by cameras for a round on his hometown course in Florida. And not only was Tiger playing by himself, he had literally not one other person with him. No caddie, no buddies to joke with, nobody to keep yardage – nothing. Not a soul. He awkwardly pretended to have an imaginary round against Phil and talk about possible side betting opportunities but with no counter part, no side kick to converse with the whole Tiger playing segment felt frankly more than a bit sad. Roughly 99.9% of PGA pros live in Florida for the tax benefits and you’re telling us Tiger couldn’t find one guy to play with. I suppose Tiger as the lone wolf has always been the mystique that he’s cultivated and sure perhaps he truly prefers practicing alone but for TV purposes he really needed someone else on the course with him. Even when other golfers on the course appeared on the fringes of the screen a distinct vibe of “the course rules say NEVER talk to Tiger” emanated through the TV screen. And that’s too bad. The dude needs some friends.
4. Private Plane Phil
Phil doesn’t just fly private. He owns his own damn jet plane. The scene of Phil rolling up to his jet and having his clubs loaded on to the plane was pure Capital “B” Baller stuff. Sure everyone knows PGA guys making tons of cash – gotdamn Matt Kucher has made $40 Million – but owning the plane is a whole nother level.
3. “A Hellacious Seed”
No clue what this means but Phil dropped this nugget after hitting a drive so it will hence forth be inducted into the Official Hi-Top Lexicon.
2. Tiger Did Not Look Sharp
Tiger seemed to be playing on an especially windy day but nonetheless the shots we saw were not good. Save for one pretty sweet chip he looked rusty as hell.
1. Every Inch of This Thing is Branded and Endorsed
From Tiger’s godawful Monster Energy Drink golf bag to every single one of Phil’s buddies rocking KPMG gear, corporate sponsorship is at every turn of this event. Now of course this is a “No duh” type of statement but the hope is always that the corporate sell is at the very least tastefully done and at best so seamless that you don’t even notice. But if we are looking at “Hole 6 presented by Motel 6” and whatnot during every shot it will get old fast. Neither of these dudes needs $9 mill let alone to squeeze every penny out of every hole so if the entertainment value gets overshadowed by the hard corporate sell it will be a real problem.
This whole thing should be FUN. The 24/7 leaned in heavy on the “ultimate competitor” angle. Sure great but also these dudes are on the backside of their careers and nowhere near their peak playing levels. This should be about getting a look at, getting invited to the type of “legendary off the books” money matches that are whispered about. Give us Michael Jordan smoking a cigar and losing hundreds of thousands on chip shots and 10 foot putts for 5 Grand a pop. There should be celebrities and comedians and characters all over this. The Tiger practice round needed NEEDED to have someone like Jordan riding Tiger the whole time. Let’s just hope there’s some real surprises in store for the actual event cuz watching Phil shank drives and Tiger miss putts in some fake serious atmosphere ain’t where this thing should be at.