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Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson begin 'smack talk' ahead of The Match

The side bets, the trash talking, and plans for a celebratory "worm" dance are in full swing as Tiger Woods ...

Posted: Nov 24, 2018 4:38 AM
Updated: Nov 24, 2018 4:38 AM

The side bets, the trash talking, and plans for a celebratory "worm" dance are in full swing as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson gear up for their much-hyped $9 million duel in the desert.

The two old foes, now good friends, will clash Friday in an 18-hole head-to-head, dubbed "The Match," at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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And the pair, who have 19 majors between them, have already upped the ante by wagering a separate $200,000 out of their own pockets -- to benefit each other's chosen charities -- on whether Mickelson will birdie the first hole.

"The tough thing was getting him to bite," said Mickelson, who first proposed a $100,000 bet, talking to CNN World Sport's Hines Ward in Las Vegas.

"Not only did he take it, he doubled it. He doubled it, are you kidding me? That's awesome. I can't believe it."

Woods, who won the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship in September for his first victory in five years, said the challenges would be "escalating."

"We're trying to get in each other's heads," added the 42-year-old.

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READ: How the world reacted to Woods' comeback victory

'Bragging rights'

Former world No.1 Woods has always had the upper hand over his compatriot throughout their illustrious careers, and had won eight of his 14 majors before Mickelson clinched his first in 2004.

Woods has 80 PGA Tour wins -- the second highest of all time -- to Mickelson's 43, and is widely expected to prevail at Shadow Creek after his remarkable return to form.

An impressive comeback season culminated in the Tour Championship win following a fourth major back surgery in April 2017.

Mickelson staged a renaissance of his own this year with a first win since his British Open triumph in 2013, and is adamant he can take down his former nemesis.

"The bragging rights that will go on for months and years after this will be just as valuable [as money]," said Mickelson. "Because if I'm able to come out on top I am the worst guy to lose to. I'll find a way to make sure you never forget."

"He's that guy," said Woods.

"That makes me a fun guy to beat," fired back Mickelson.

'Smack talk'

The two players will wear microphones for the match, meaning those stumping up the $19.99 to watch on pay-per-view in the US will be able to hear their interactions on the course.

"You know Tiger is an underrated smack talker," said Mickelson, 48. "He doesn't get the credit for his smack talk because he does it so understated and he does it under his breath so nobody else can hear other than you.

"That funny side of him is going to come out."

READ: Cheyenne Woods on being Tiger's niece

The pair were known to have a frosty relationship in their competitive heyday, but involvement in the US Ryder Cup task force, Presidents Cups and Mickelson's support through Woods' injuries have bonded them in recent years.

At a news conference in Las Vegas to promote "The Match," they stood face to face like boxers before a prize fight but dissolved into giggles seconds later.

With both players having tasted success again this year, Mickelson predicted a "phenomenal" 2019. When asked who will win the next major between them, the left hander pointed to the next major on the calendar, the Masters in April.

"It's at Augusta, we've both had success there," he laughed.

Woods, a four-time Masters champion, added: "I mean, there's seven coats [green jackets] between us.

"But I have more."

"You see the subtlety?" said Mickelson. "He pays a compliment and then he throws a dig."

If he wins, Mickelson is already planning a repeat of his "worm" dance routine that lit up social media earlier this season in an advert for his clothing sponsor.

"It's very possible that I might do the worm across the green," he said. "I'm not sure how it's all going to play out because I don't want to rub it in too early but that could come out."

Woods said he was safe given Mickelson vowed only to perform it if he wins, but he admits he is under "pressure" to come out on top to avoid seeing the worm.

"How he responds to that pressure. That's the real question," said Mickelson.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
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Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
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Union574186
Pike5613136
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George471472
Scott459196
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Prentiss446779
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Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
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Clay296473
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Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
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Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
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Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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