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Culp's Corner

The Match: Tiger vs. Phil

by Josh Culp
Updated On: November 19, 2018, 1:48 pm ET

Head-to-Head Golf is in season for the holidays. 

After you stuff your face with some Thursday turkey (or maybe Tofurkey for those vegans out there), Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be providing the entertainment on Friday. 

These legends will be going mono y mono in a match play format with the winner walking away $9 million richer. 

Whether you love it or hate it, the alternative is NO golf on Thanksgiving weekend, so I consider this a win. 

The coverage will feature celebrity banter and will also have Tiger and Phil mic'd up so we can hear all the chatter as the match progresses and side bets are made. 


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The Course

The host course for this event is Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Noted for its $500 greens fee and pristine conditions, this course will dazzle on the coverage. Speaking of coverage, they should pull out all the stops to make this one exciting to view.

Drone coverage. That's all I need to say. Hopefully, some of their coverage tactics will be innovative enough that other networks make it common practice in 2019. 

It's a Tom Fazio design that plays up to 7,560 yards as a par 72. 

Located in North Las Vegas, they will be roughly 2,000 feet above sea level which will definitely influence some of their club selections. 

There is a lot of flexibility with the tee boxes so it could play much shorter if they want to see birdies fly off the shelves, which I would assume will be the case.

They aren't dishing out $9 million to see these guys grind out pars. I would guess the set up will be on the easy side, allowing for lots of birdie-or-better opportunities. 

That puts the course record in jeopardy which is currently 66, shared by Dustin Johnson and Lu Chien-Soon. That record refers to post-renovation (2008). Before that, Tiger Woods and Fred Couples shared the course record of 60. Of course, that official record won't actually be in jeopardy since this is match play were some putts will be conceded and what not.

By all accounts I could find, these golfers will see bermudagrass fairways and bentgrass greens. Given the cool Las Vegas nights at this time of the year, I would expect there to be some overseed in the fairways and rough. 

The Weather

Friday: Mostly sunny with a high near 60 degrees. Winds currently forecasted to be dead calm. I'm talking about the lowest wind forecast I've ever seen (about 1-to-6 MPH). 


Head-to-Head Stats

Using stats from PGATOUR.com and FantasyNational.com let's dive through some numbers to see who has the edge in this match... 

--> Tiger and Phil have been paired together 37* times since their first pairing together back at the 1997 PGA Championship where they both shot 5-over 75s. *Groupings data is not 100% accurate before the ShotLink era which started in 2003. 

Woods has bettered Mickelson in 18 (48.6%) of those rounds while Mickelson has "won" 15 (40.5%) of them (4 ties). Tiger's scoring average in those 37 rounds is 69.70 (-1.46 RTP) while Phil sits at 70.24 (-0.92 RTP). 

More recently, Woods has won 6 of their last 10 rounds played together while Mickelson has won the other four. Woods bettered Mickelson in both 2018 rounds which came at THE PLAYERS. 

--> Since 2012, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have played 185 rounds on the same course/same day on the PGA TOUR. 

Woods has posted a better score in 89 of those rounds (48.1%). Mickelson has posted a better score in 70 of those rounds (37.8%). Assuming a tie is a push, that would make Tiger a -127 favorite. 

--> Over the last 12 months, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have played 46 rounds on the same course/same day on the PGA TOUR. 

Woods has posted a better score in 24 of those rounds (52.2%). Mickelson has posted a better score in 18 of those rounds (39.1%). Assuming a tie is a push, that would make Tiger a -133 favorite. 

--> Since 2012, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have played 67 rounds on the same course/same day in CALM wind conditions. 

Woods has posted a better score in 30 of those rounds (44.8%). Mickelson has posted a better score in 27 of those rounds (40.3%). Assuming a tie is a push, that would make Tiger a -111 favorite. Woods still has the edge here, but things tend to drift toward Lefty when conditions are easier. 

--> Since 2014, Phil Mickelson ranks 6th on TOUR in performance (adjusted strokes gained per round) in the West Region of the country. Both golfers grew up in California but Woods is now based out of Florida. Less than 20 of Woods' competitive rounds since 2014 have come in the West. Mickelson still makes sure to play a heavy West Coast schedule each year including plenty of visits to Scottsdale which is played at the same altitude. Advantage goes to Phil in terms of location. 

--> Since 2014, Phil Mickelson ranks 26th on TOUR in performance on bentgrass greens while Tiger Woods ranks 15th. Advantage back to Tiger. 

--> Tiger Woods has a career singles record of 50-17-2 while Phil Mickelson sits at 33-25-4 (courtesy of AdamSarson.com). Talk about dominance by Tiger over the course of his career. However, he's just 3-4-1 over his last 8 matches. Of course, that's just cherrypicking the bad. Over that same time frame where Woods has just played 8 matches, Mickelson is 12-8-1 which a slight improvement over his career results. 

My Prediction

Almost any metric you look at will give Tiger Woods an edge in this match. It makes perfect sense that Woods is the heavy favorite in the betting markets. However, my gut tells me that Phil Mickelson will have the edge when it comes to Match Play Intangibles and will also be more comfortable at 2,000 feet above sea level. 

If I were forced to make a detailed prediction here I would say Tiger Woods wins 1-up over Phil Mickelson. However, the current betting markets do leave plenty of value on the side of Phil Mickelson


Josh Culp
Josh Culp joined Rotoworld in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.