Mano A Mano
'We'll play 9 holes for a G': The best highlights from the Bryson DeChambeau vs. Phil Mickelson match
With his final-round 58 on Sunday at The Greenbrier, Bryson DeChambeau created the best possible content LIV could have asked for. A few days before that, though, he created an even better bit of content with the ultimate content king in golf, Phil Mickelson.
DeChambeau, who has always been part pro golfer, part long-drive competitor and part YouTube star, among other things, challenged Lefty to a nine-hole match during a practice round at The Old White and had the cameras rolling the whole time. The result, unsurprisingly, was a highly-entertaining match featuring plenty of gambling, great golf shots, and trash talking, all of it cut down into a 40-minute video you can watch on-demand at your leisure.
Below are some of our favorite highlights from this Bryson (and Anirban Lahiri) vs. Phil (and Cameron Tringale) duel.
Let's just say Mickelson has done this a few times before, which is why him listing the terms for the match is akin to a waiter at a five-star restaurant listing off every ingredient in each of the specials based off memory alone. One does not simply play a "fun" nine holes with Lefty for some YouTube content. There has to be something on the line, something to get the competitive juices flowing:
For those confused, Mickelson set up a two-man best ball match for $1,000. "Press for half" means that the team who gets closed out, i.e. loses the match with a hole or two (or more) left, can start a new match to cut into their losses. If they win that new match, they only owe $500. If they lose, they still owe the original $1,000. The "not the full?" , "Not the full." bit meant that Bryson was asking if you could completely clear the debt by winning the press, to which Mickelson said absolutely not. A fun little addition from Mickelson at the end, for added juice, was that if one of the teams shoots a best-ball 28, the bet doubles to $2,000. "I always max it at that, to keep it friendly," Mickelson says in the most rich-guy statement ever. That said, you can't help but respect the Randy Moss, straight cash homie move. All these payment apps just make things super confusing and allow welchers to welch.
Of course, one can't help but feel a little gross watching this knowing about Mickelson's self-proclaimed "reckless" gambling addiction, which led to some speculation that his colossal losses over the years were part of the reason he joined the LIV Golf Tour. It's a lot like somebody who says they are dieting and trying to lose weight somehow always being on their "cheat day." This clip might not age all that well when the Billy Walters book drops in two weeks time.
The Production Value
Say what you want about Bryson, but the man, and his team, knows how to do content in 2023, hence the 356K YouTube subscribers. Plenty of cameras out there to capture every shot and, even better, the pre- and post-shot stuff. A moment at around the 7:25 mark features Mickelson quickly going through his pre-shot discussion with his caddie and brother Tim. "Stock 9 is probably a little much, so it's right between Pelz and stock," says Lefty. "Stock" is a full 9 iron, while "Pelz" is Mickelson's low-launch, low-spin shot, which he's explained before. "Maybe just add the Pelz? I'm in a tiny old divot so it's sitting down just a bit, so it'll be a little shorter. So, we're closer to stock cut." This is the type of stuff golf fans live for and we so rarely get on a normal broadcast. Add in the great use of shot tracer, the little red and blue circles showing where the ball is landing on tee shots, graphics that are clean and easy to read and follow what's happening, and the drone to do flyovers before each hole, and that's really all it takes to make a very quality, watchable product.
Imagine we could hear tee-box conversations like this all the time?
About three minutes after this, DeChambeau was walking to the second green and started talking into the camera. "Little amped up right now, hitting it good, driver's going well. I'm excited man." We all know what happened next. Cool to see him more or less call his shot a few days earlier.
The Trash Talk
Generally speaking, tour pros—Mickelson included—are terrible at on-camera, forced trash talk. While each edition of Capital One's The Match has had its moments, you can tell the guys can't be their off-camera, natural, behind-the-scenes selves. Somehow, though, DeChambeau's team is able to create an environment where these guys can feel relaxed and fire away. Even something as simple as leaving in the cursing, but bleeping it out, gives it a "OK, this is a real, unscripted thing that's happening here." That's how these guys talk, and trying to hide it or acting like they are all perfect gentlemen is just plain silly and insulting to the viewer.
Not long after these drives, Mickelson poured in an opening birdie that he said was going to go in well before even addressing it. "I'm going to play it three inches outside the hole, let it feed in there and get a quick 1-up lead." Bang. "That feels so good, taking a 1-up lead on them." Rub it in, baby.
The Golf Shots
When you're only following four guys, it's easy to capture every shot, though that somehow still proves difficult to do on certain weeks for certain networks. In this format, you see them all and, obviously, a lot of them are good. Anirban's near ace at No. 3 was a top highlight, as was him correcting Bryson after Bryson hit a "183-184 shot." "I was going to say," Lahiri says, "it's a 178 shot." Would have been nice to know before hitting it, partner.
And then there's king of the sauce, Mickelson, at No. 6:
"Did it miss? Shoot." Peak FIGJAM.
Not too much to say here other than there is nothing like a quality nickname. "Camo" for Cameron Tringale makes Cameron Tringale seem way cooler than he is (no offense). "Ban" is a Golf Twitter favorite for Anirban Lahiri. "B" for Bryson is hilariously lazy but I kind of love it. It's no "Mad Scientist" or "Incredible Bulk," but those are too long to actually call someone to their face anyway. As for Mickelson, well, he has too many nicknames to count.
SPOILERS ahead ... Although, did you really think the match was going to end any other way than with Mickelson and Tringale not only winning, but shooting the 28 they needed to double the bet? Anybody who sets the terms in the manner in which Mickelson set them is a lock to win.
Check out the full video of the match below.