News & Opinion

'Tiger vs Phil' involves Woods, McIlroy, Day, and Matsuyama next month in Japan

The modern golf swing, personified by the power of Tiger Woods, is more likely to lead to back problems, according to researchers.

This year’s sequel - good idea or another waste of time?

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Jeff Rude are co-hosts of a weekly podcast, Hawk & Rude, in which they discuss and debate the hottest issues in golf. They also share their takes in this weekly installment.

Hawk’s take: Last year’s silly-season match was a disaster, so what do they do? Double the number of participants and move it to Asia! Awesome idea! Why would anybody on the emperor’s green earth think this is going to fly? It’s worth noting that Japan’s love affair with Woods never waned through the fire hydrant, prescription pills and back surgeries, which makes it a business trip with a couple of personnel wrinkles. It’s also connected to the PGA Tour’s first-ever event in the golf-crazed nation, so lots of money will change hands, and all of the principal investors are likely to walk away happy.

That doesn’t make it relevant, or even watchable, but it does suffice as harmless fun for viewers who might be interested. Discovery Inc.’s startup golf network, which also has a financial partnership with Woods, will handle the telecast. How that turns out is anyone’s guess, but it couldn’t possibly be worse than last year’s pay-per-view mess presented by TNT.

Thirty years ago, these skins games and money-grab matches were a fresh commodity in a far less expansive televisual market. The point of diminishing returns on such shindigs arrived long ago, but Woods remains a potential gold mine. If there’s a profit to be made, whether it’s in 1849 or 2019, there always will be panhandlers.

Rude’s take: What, Brooks Koepka wasn’t interested or couldn’t make it?

Anyway, you could say it’s a good idea for Japan, for this Skins Game version involves that country’s best player and the two highest-ceiling separation players of the past quarter century who have known how to win by rout in Woods and McIlroy.

You could say it’s golf for the junkie to watch.

You could say it’s nice for the pocketbook of those four players.

You could say all that. But I’ve never been much for the Silly Season, for hit-and-giggle golf, for golf that doesn’t much matter, for golf when there’s no meaningful skin that would go front and center in someone’s trophy case.

The original Skins Game ran its course and disappeared for a reason. So, this is just more of the same from yesteryear.

It could be a big Q-rating deal in Japan. But, considering I’m partial to major championships and other big stuff, I don’t figure to watch it.

But I would if they played for their own money. And I’d tune in for a McIlroy-Koepka match to check the size of the chips on the PGA Tour player of the year runner-up’s broad shoulders.

John Hawkins is a longtime sportswriter who spent 14 years covering the PGA Tour for Golf World magazine. From 2007 to 2011, he was a regular on Golf Channel’s “Grey Goose 19th Hole.” Email:

Jeff Rude has covered golf for more than 30 years, most notably for two decades with Golfweek, and has hosted multiple national TV and radio shows. He covered 82 consecutive major championships. Email:; Twitter: @JeffRudeGolf