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Forget immigration reform, Facebook’s privacy policy and your nephew’s Fortnite addiction — the hottest topic at Thanksgiving tables this week will be The Match, the Nov. 23 showdown that pits Tiger and Phil in Sin City for nine meeeeellion dollars. If the lead-up to this event is any indication, the Tiger-Phil Turkey Day takes are sure to have more bite than your Aunt Bertha’s collard greens. But don’t sweat it, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to keep your friends and family in line when they go off on The Match. (Note: Takes are ordered in ascending order of spiciness.) 

1. “The Match? What’s that?”

Despite the breathless, at times cringy, hype machine surrounding this event and endless debate in golf-media circles about its viability, brace yourself for the possibility that some of your family members will have no idea that Tiger and Phil are playing this week. Don’t hold it against them. Calmly explain the premise of The Match, the basics of the format, and why you will be padlocking yourself in your man cave on Friday afternoon in a full-body lycra tiger costume.

2. “Twenty bucks to watch golf?!”

So, your grandpa is aghast that “the privilege” of watching Tiger v. Phil will set him back $19.99? Gently remind him that he paid three times that for Season 3 of Matlock on VHS in 1989 and then try to convince him that’s it actually not a horrible deal. Hell, Wrestlemania costs $60 and that’s way less real than this competition. Plus, some cool stuff is in the offing: the players and caddies will be mic’d up; drone-cams will be hovering above the course; and a data stream from the MGM sports book will be juicing the broadcast with “predictive data integrations” — aka, stuff that gamblers can bet on. And, oh yeah, Charles Barkley will be in the booth!

3. “Sir Charles is calling a golf event? Seriously? Having you seen his swing?”

Yes, Barkley stinks at golf. Everyone knows that. But that’s hardly relevant. The man has more Tiger stories than Siegfried & Roy. Here’s hoping he shares some of the saucier ones in the booth. The producers have a whole lotta airtime to fill.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods during the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone. Will you be watching their match on Friday?Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods during the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone. Will you be watching their match on Friday?

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods during the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone. Will you be watching their match on Friday?

4. “Did you hear they’re not allowing fans on site? How sad.”

You know what would be even sadder? Fans! This isn’t the WMPO, it’s…well, we’re not quite sure what it is yet. We’re still in the petri-dish phase. But a few thousand curious spectators milling around the holes would have given The Match the aura of a low-wattage amateur event. Better to go fan-free and dial up the pyrotechnics for viewers at home, at least for the initial iteration.

5. “The host venue, Shadow Creek, is contrived and artificial.”

Exactly! Is there a more fitting venue?

LAS VEGAS - APRIL 4: Shadow Creek Golf Course pictured during the first round of the 2013 Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. LAS VEGAS - APRIL 4: Shadow Creek Golf Course pictured during the first round of the 2013 Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational.

Shadow Creek during the first round of the 2013 Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational.

6. “Tiger and Phil are washed up. The Match would have been much more interesting in 2006.”

Oh, please. Like laser-focused, world-dominating Tiger would have done this in ’06? And even if he had, he would have exuded about as much personality as a 2-iron. This is a unique moment in time: Both players are winding down their careers but still have enough game to take Shadow Creek to its gilded knees, and Tiger has finally come around to the idea of letting down his guard, if only slightly. Let’s just enjoy this for what it is: two old rivals trying something new — and a highly preferable alternative to the Guy Fieri marathon over on the Food Network.

7. “The whole thing is a shameless cash grab. They should have played for their own money.”

Why is it that when successful people profit off the personal brands they’ve spent a lifetime building, their critics define those moments as “shameless”? Is Capital One shameless for sponsoring the event? Is Ernie Johnson shameless for calling it? And the guys will be playing for at least some of their own dough. In a clever wrinkle, The Match organizers have granted the players the ability to place on-the-fly prop bets, with the proceeds going to the winner’s designated charities. The first bet, for a cool 200K, is already on the board.

8. “The Match is probably rigged.”

There’s always one conspiracy theorist at the table. At yours, it’s Uncle Lester, who’s certain that The Match has been fixed by Vegas sharks and/or Russian oligarchs. True, this event has been more staged than Frozen on Broadway but when Tiger and Phil — who have been hardwired to step on each another’s throats since their junior golf days in SoCal — stick pegs in the ground on Friday, rest assured no sum of money could convince them to cook the books. They’ll be playing to win.

9. “Dumb idea.”

Fine, don’t watch. Now pass the damn gravy.

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