The return of Tiger Woods v Phil Mickelson shows golf will thrive on innovation

The build up to The Match was a somewhat nauseating spectacle as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson – two men hardly in need of any extra cash – posed for social media snaps in front of, well, loads of money.

But that didn’t put off millions of fans from wanting to see what happened next, and it seems as though this showdown has legs: even after the pay-per-view meltdown that left Turner Media – the US broadcasters – paying back refunds to everyone who purchased the programme, they will likely be bringing it back again in 2019 and 2020.

The three-year deal was reported in Golf Digest and despite reporting the debacle as some sort of failure, it does makes sense. Despite the technical glitch (live-streaming isn’t easy!), the event drew in big sponsors and massive numbers of paying fans, even if they all got their money back. In other words, the potential is there.

Indeed, there’s also scope to evolve the format, too. The impact of Tiger v Phil lay partly in nostalgia for the days when these were undisputedly the best golfers in the world, and perhaps didn’t get along as well as they do now. Indeed, this phenomenon also looks to be part of golf’s wider trend of heralding the returning heroes and old foes who are now playing alongside the burgeoning talent pool of young players lighting up the game. With so many big names on tour at the moment the sport has never looked healthier, but off the course it could do with some shaking up.

To that end, anything that adds a bit of fun to the sport is to be welcomed. If Tiger and Phil – or their backers – can come up with a format that makes this a yearly spectacle then we could see something like this becoming a fixture in the calendar, and something for golf fans to look forward to in the barren months after the end of FedEx Cup – or the Ryder Cup every two years – and before the start of the next season.

Golf needs new ideas and this is one of them. The fact that Turner can still see the potential, even after making no money from pay-per-view sales, shows the impact that innovation can have on this particular sport. Discovery’s GolfTV may also be a case in point.

New formats, new tournaments and innovation are definitely ones to watch in golf as we head into 2019.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 775 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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