LOS ANGELES — The efforts of golf stars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to “talk smack” ahead of their winner-takes-all match in Las Vegas ended in laughs and handshakes.
Organisers of tomorrow’s $9m showdown (£7m) hoped to stoke up the rivalry in a news conference before the pay-per-view duel at Shadow Creek Golf Club.
But there were more compliments than “trash talk” from the American pair.
And a boxing-style “face-off” lasted only a few seconds, with neither man able to keep a straight face.
There was a frosty relationship between the two as Woods had the better of Mickelson, six years his senior at 48, early in his career.
Woods had racked up eight major wins before Mickelson broke his duck in 2004.
Mickelson now has five major wins while Woods, a 14-time major winner, recovered from back surgery to claim his first PGA Tour win for five years in September, and they now play practice rounds together.
“I just don’t want to lose to him and give him the satisfaction because the bragging rights are going to be even worse than the money,” said Mickelson.
“Every time I see you I want to be able to rub it in. I want to sit in the champions’ locker room at Augusta and talk smack. I want that.”
Woods described Mickelson as “one of the greatest players to ever pick up a golf club” while Mickelson said: “He’s the greatest of all time. I’ve seen him do things with a golf ball that have never been done.”
Woods added: “We’ve gone at it for over two decades. I missed competing [while injured] and being able to go against Phil like this. It gets my juices flowing, for sure.”
The contest, which will see both players wearing microphones, coincides with Thanksgiving weekend. And with no fans allowed on the course, the only option to watch it live is on pay-per-view television.
“This event is designed to be a unique experience for the golf viewer, to create a production from drone coverage to on-screen gambling, to live mics and interaction,” said Mickelson.
“It’s an insight into the game which you’re normally not able to see. It’s why it’s on pay-per-view, because we had to eliminate the commercials to have that insight in between the shots.” — BBC Sport