SLIPS: The Match's Value Could Be in the Wreckage

SLIPS: The Match's Value Could Be in the Wreckage

The quality of play was insufficient, especially considering the combatants.

Especially considering the hype of “The Match.” Oh, and the $19.99 fee that became even more of a source of irritation for the excited throng that forked over cash on Friday for a match play event fraught with missed putts and squawky microphones.

There was some consolation for those who watched for free on a Bleacher Report stream after Turner Sports’ pay-per-view gears gummed, perhaps because they weren’t compelled to actually sit through the entirety of Phil Mickelson plodding past Tiger Woods in extra holes at Shadow Creek in North Las Vegas.

It wasn’t good golf and certainly not as entertaining as a host of Turner personalities - except Charles Barkley, who interjected, “You know, America, you're watching some really crappy golf.'' – would have had the irritated and deflated viewing public believe.

Plenty to Parse in the Technical Aspects of The Match

But in the way those flapping-wing-helicopter contraptions eventually served some utility in the creation of the Wright Flyer, there could have been value for the legal sports betting industry and television networks attempting to synergize it. It might just take a while to sort through the debris of a failed spectacle that left the hopeful too irritated to notice progress right away. And it will require other sports leagues seeing value in what Turner attempted.

Gambling culture was pervasive in the broadcast, from a back drop outside of Las Vegas to live updating odds and the myriad of side bets like the $100,000 closest-to-the-pin wager Woods pitched – and lost – on the fifth hole. At one point early in the match Mickelson asked a PGA Tour official walking beside him up the fairway whether he’d like to see side bets during the tour. That almost certainly is not the case, as reported that Mickelson and Woods had somehow been limited by the tour to four side bets of up to $800,000 of their own money.

Mickelson, who is renowned for his willingness to make things a little more interesting with a timely wager, had suggested he and Woods could sling around in excess of $2 million. Watching them toss $50,000 on which could 5-iron one of the television drones out of the sky above them would have livened things up appreciably, and the PGA’s alleged interference suggests the event could have offered more entertainment to sports bettors had it been unfettered. And even amid the failure, it offers hope that a more mainstream gambling production has potential beyond the muted version offered on Friday.

DraftKings Figures Show Betting Public Was Engaged

The betting public certainly remained interested in Woods. A SugarHouse Online Casino & Sportsbook spokesperson said the match drew "significant betting interest," and according to a spokesperson at DraftKings Sportsbook:

  • The Match generated more betting volume than any college football game last weekend.
  • 68.7% of handle on the match came when the match was live.
  • Of the users who bet on Tiger v. Phil, 56 percent said it was their first bet on golf at DraftKings.
  • There was a 300% increase in paid cash bettors for the match compared to the Ryder Cup or the US Open.

Golf Demographic May Not Be the True Test of New Concept

Those are encouraging numbers for the commercial sports betting industry, but the ultimate push into the mainstream will eventually be made by Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, National Football League or National Hockey League, David Carter, executive director of the USC Marshall Sports Business Institute told A major part of the reason, he said, is the fact that golf’s older demographic is less likely to engage in sports wagering on mobile devices.

“Given the sport and its viewing demographic, I don’t believe this most recent made-for-TV golf event will have any measurable impact on the proliferation and acceptance of sports gambling,” Carter said in an email. “Rather, it will continue to be the major sports leagues, gambling conglomerates, and tech companies that will bring gambling more into the mainstream via a wide variety of prop bets and other emerging wagering categories.

“As evidenced by recent partnership deals, the upside associated with these strategic partnerships will be material and will lead to substantial increases in revenue for elements of the sports industry.”

Maybe for the PGA, too. Maybe if it presents a better product in a future high-profile match play event. Or maybe The Match will simply show the way for everyone else.

Patriots Do What They Do, Look Dangerous For Playoffs

The viewing and betting public was riveted by the Rams’ 54-51 win over the Chiefs last Monday, sparking predictions or at least fervent hopes of a Super Bowl rematch. All this while the New Orleans Saints are arguably, and in the consideration of bookmakers, the favorite to capture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Do not, SugarHouse analyst David Tuchman told, discount the five-time champion New England Patriots, especially as rookie running back Sony Michel continues to round into shape after a knee injury earlier this season. New England certainly didn’t display the panache of the NFL’s current darling teams in staving off the Jets on Sunday, but they did what always do, as in winning after losses and byes. The Patriots, who fell 34-10 to Tennessee on Nov. 11, are 40-14 against the spread following a loss since 2003 and 16-10-1 in the same span after a bye. They were idle last week.

“It was a lot of metrics pointing the way of the Patriots and they played about as bad as they could and yet they still covered,” Tuchman said. “I still this team's going to go as far as Sony Michel takes them. I think the comparison with the John Elway, Terrell Davis-led [Denver Broncos] Super Bowl team [in 1998] is very appropriate.

“I think back then, John Elway was not good enough anymore to put the team on his back. And he and the coaching staff finally realized that and they said, ‘Hey, we've got a horse in Terrell Davis. Let's ride him.

“I honestly think that they go through Sony Michel and since he didn't get that much play this year so far, he’ll still be somewhat fresh. If he stays healthy and they can keep everybody else healthy, this team can make all the noise … as long as that's the way they go.”

Pack is Not Back As Playoff Hopes Flicker Out

Tuchman remains puzzled by the Packers, who fell to 4-6-1 and seemingly out of the playoff chase after a 24-17 loss to NFC North foe Minnesota on Sunday night. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose statistics hover around the top ten for starters, has some culpability, he said.

“The Packers, I’m just blown away by how awful coaching and management is,” Tuchman said. “Now, Aaron Rodgers is not blameless. He's not playing his best football. His completion percentage is lower or as low as it's been in six, seven years. Still over 60 percent, mind you, but having said that though, if I were to tell you that I'm going to give you a quarterback that's going to complete passes at over 60 percent and has a 20 to one touchdown-to-interception ratio, you probably think that that was a playoff team at least, right?”

That said, head coach Mike McCarthy is deserving of the increased scrutiny he’s enduring, Tuchman continued.

“Great quarterbacks still need good coaches. Joe Montana had Bill Walsh and [Tom] Brady has [Bill] Belichick. And whether you want to blame management or coaching or both, it's just a disservice to have arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game and they're not going to make the playoffs and they don't really have the excuse like Atlanta, who lost three key starters on defense and their starting running back.”

“I don't know what the excuse in Green Bay is.”

Odds, Ends, Notre Dame Problems

  • At SugarHouse Online Casino & Sportsbook, the players’ best result of the week was the Patriots covering the 13-point spread against the Jets, 27-13.
  • A SugarHouse bettor nailed an 11-team NFL parlay this week including all three Thanksgiving games and the Colts' 27-24 comeback against the Dolphins. The win paid $7,900.
  • According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, money poured into MGM on Mickelson on Friday at +165 and +180. Woods closed as a –150 favorite after standing at –210 at MGM on Thursday.
  • Notre Dame’s failed cover of a 14-point spread against USC was more than $550,000 worth of costly to the mythic figure that is the Duffel Bag Bettor. According to the Review-Journal, the 24-17 win – in which the Trojans scored a touchdown with 48 seconds left – soured a $50,000 three-team parlay, $10,000 four-team parlay and a $50,000 straight bet.
  • According to, William Hill’s “Will Duke go undefeated?" special lasted just one day. The “Yes” opened at 25-1 and had 168 bets before the line came down to 12-1 by the time the Blue Devils lost, 89-87, to Gonzaga. There was one “No” bet.
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