Tiger vs. Phil needs clarified rules

Tiger vs. Phil needs clarified rules

September 05, 2018 3:09 AM
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Many of the details of the Tiger Woods v. Phil Mickelson golf showdown for a reported $9 million Friday, Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Weekend) at MGM Resorts International’s Shadow Creek Golf Club in North Las Vegas remain “to be announced.” However, despite the TBA details regarding the exact starting time, weather contingency plans and ticket sales (if any), there remain underlying issues that of are of importance to bettors and bookmakers, alike, that could impact the way gamblers gamble and bookmakers book.

Count this reporter among those who questioned the legitimacy of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. v. Conor McGregor boxing match just over a year ago. I was wrong when I predicted it wouldn’t be entertaining. It was. I was wrong when I said the McGregor, a mixed martial arts veteran, might revert to his combat roots when popped a few times in the head. He didn’t. It was very entertaining, well attended and heavily booked in Nevada sports betting marketplaces.

As with the mega-fights of days gone by, it gave the town a big lift. One of the big casino companies even said the lack of a major local event this August was part of the reason for softer than normal business over the summer.

Regarding the competition itself, there are rumblings that Shadow Creek owner MGM and/or the promoters might severely restrict attendance. Whoever thought of that wrongheaded idea, hopefully not MGM, is ignoring the obvious fact that a lack of a live, engaged crowd would put a damper on the excitement. If the event doesn’t generate an organic enthusiasm on its own it may be outrageously dull, especially if either Tiger or Phil vaults out to a big league. Will the winner be based on total score called “medal” or “stroke” play or will it be “match” play scoring consisting of individual holes won, halved or lost?

Can Phil or Tiger “press” if either falls way behind? Just wondering. It will be even more difficult to create excitement if the rules for the match are not completely clear to the betting public and not subject to any interpretation whatsoever.

Pardon me for assuming the match is being held in Nevada because the promoters and participants want us to bet on it.

Hopefully these questions will be answered soon. Excitement has to gradually build to a crescendo to fully engage the public. Trying to generate it with a few last minute press conferences or with phony acrimony between the two players would be another bad idea. Releasing the details in dribs and drabs gives the public less time to anticipate something that, under the right circumstances, could be epic.

Looking forward to a sports event or a special occasion can be nearly as pleasurable as the event or occasion, itself. How can sports fans look forward to the match when we know too little about it?

Few details have emerged about what is being called “The Match. What we do know comes from Sports Business Journal‘s John Ourand who has reported that the event will be produced by Turner Sports and distributed across a wide range of AT&T/Warner Media properties, including preview and additional programming on HBO and Bleacher Report with the actual event pay-per-view on AT&T, DirecTV, and, perhaps, other providers. Ourand says Turner “is expected to charge viewers less than $30.” ESPN’s Darren Rovell, however, has tweeted that “no price has been set yet“. The Mayweather Jr.-McGregor bout cost $89.95 before HD.

What that means for the media landscape is one thing and what it portends for the wagering landscape quite another.

Several local bookmakers bristled when I asked about the pay-per-view aspect and said they have yet to be approached with a price to show it in their property. Next, comes the question of “in-play” wagering. Will an official data feed comprised of information such as longer(est) drive and longer(est) putt and the like be part of the PPV price or offered on its own?

If any book purchases a data a feed for “in-play” betting it could provide a precedent that the major sports leagues can seize on to begin charging for “official” data. The current consensus among those taking sports bets is that this is a prospect that must be avoided.

Also, look for Tiger and Phil and anyone else associated with this event to stop calling it “winner take all.” Those of us with an excess of years and good memories can vividly recall the Jimmy Connors v. Rod Laver tennis event in Las Vegas in 1975 and others that were promoted by CBS as “winner take all”. When it was discovered that both players got paid win or lose, Washington stepped in and Congressional hearings were held on the deception that helped lead to an FCC fine. The integrity of the matches were never questioned, only their promotion.

I don’t doubt both Tiger (-170) and Phil (+145) will want to win and receive the $9 million, but some of the secondary aspects of their showdown may end up being as interesting as the match itself.