WHOEVER said cheaters never prosper is about to be proven right or wrong, once and for all.
This weekend sees a titanic clash of the golf world’s biggest cheater and most honest family man, as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods face off in a £7million showdown in Las Vegas.
One has been happily married for decades and even missed an important tournament to attend his daughter’s graduation.
While the other has a list of public indiscretions as long as his golf club, including a host of extra-marital affairs, a controversy-plagued career and a drug-driving rap.
But how do the long-time rivals compare to each other on and off the field and can you really come out on top by sticking to the rules?
Here, we take a look how the contrasting fortunes of Mickelson and Woods have played out so far.
Family guy vs sex-obsessed cheat
Mickelson, 48, has been married to glamorous wife Amy for over 20 years and the pair have three children – Amanda, 19, Sophia, 17 and Evan, 15.
When the couple first met in 1992, she was a cheerleader at Arizona State University, while Phil had graduated and was already a famous golfer.
They married four years later in 1996 and Amy has been at his side every step of the way.
Phil carried a pager at the 1999 US Open and was ready to quit at any time to make sure he didn’t miss Amanda’s birth, which he was able to witness soon after losing the tournament by a stroke.
He helped her through a battle with breast cancer from Spring 2009 until 2012, regularly flying in from the golf tour to go to treatments with her.
And the ever-devoted family man skipped the ultra-important US Open for the first time in his career in 2017 to attend Amanda’s high school graduation.
He said: ”As I look back on life, this is a moment I’ll always cherish and be glad I was present.”
Woods, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to place the same importance on family.
The 42-year-old married Swedish model Elin Nordegren, 38, in 2004 but they divorced in 2010 after Woods admitted to cheating on her with a string of women, including a nightclub hostess named Rachel Uchitel.
He later said in an emotional TV interview: “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable. And I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in.”
Tiger went on to have a string of public romances and one-night-stands after his divorce, including one with Olympic gold medallist Lindsey Vonn, lingerie model Jamie Jungers and porn star Holly Sampson.
He is now dating restaurant manager Erica Herman, 33, who will be by his side at the Vegas showdown with Mickelson.
They have been dating since late 2017, just months after Tiger split with previous girlfriend Kristin Smith, who had suspected him of cheating on her.
Tiger has three half-siblings, Earl Jr, Kevin and Royce – but they have publicly claimed he abandoned them as he got famous.
Sex scandals, boozy driving and blazing rows
Phil hasn’t really shown himself as the rule-breaking type, and even when he did accidentally break a minor rule on the golf course in West Virginia in July, he reported himself to officials.
Later that same tournament, he was slapped with a two-shot penalty for another rule break and later issued an apology for telling critics to “toughen up”.
He admitted: “I do a lot of dumb stuff.”
Woods, on the other hand, is almost as known for his controversies as being one of golf’s all-time greats.
But one of this biggest PR disasters was being charged for driving under the influence in May 2017, when cops found him asleep at the wheel.
A police report said Woods failed several sobriety tests, which Woods blamed on “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications”.
And he suffered cuts and bruises in a car crash the same week after his affair with party girl Rachel Uchitel in 2009 was reported by The National Enquirer.
He crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a tree as he was leaving his house in the cover of darkness.
Reports suggest he had just had a blazing row with then-wife Elin about his cheating, which prompted her to chase him out of the house with a golf club.
Bitter rivalry on the golf course
Woods is widely recognised as one of golf’s greats, having won 14 majors.
He turned professional aged 20 and didn’t take long to establish himself as the dominant force in golf.
His exceptional talents transcended the sport, making him one of the world’s most high-profile stars and earning him huge sponsorship deals.
Mickelson, meanwhile, has won five majors and reached a career-high ranking of second in the world several times.
He’s a popular figure among fans of the sport, due to his likeable nature and long career at the top of his game.
The battle of the bank accounts
The pair are golf’s biggest earners, with Woods taking home £33.6 million last year alone, compared to Mickelson’s £32.1 million according to Forbes.
Across his career to date, Woods has won a whopping £89 million, with Mickelson second at £68 million.
But that’s without taken into account huge multi-million sponsorship deals off the course, including the likes of Nike.
In 2017, Forbes estimated Woods’ net worth to be a massive £1.32 billion, including appearance fees, sponsorships, prize money and investments.
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They named him the second highest-earning athletes of all time, second only to American basketball ace Michael Jordan’s £1.44billion.
Mickelson came in sixth with £633million, which still put him ahead of the likes of David Beckham (£621million), boxing star Floyd Mayweather (£610million) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£563million).
The winner of Friday’s one-off battle, which is being shown on pay-per-view for £15.99 each, will pocket another £7million.
Not bad for a day’s work.
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