BOSTON, Mass – Eight green jackets got together with eight Super Bowl rings in one of the best televised hit-and-giggle golf exhibitions ever. Even though the nation is starved for live sporting events, this production exceeded all expectation, and in the process, raised over $20 million for thew COVID-19 relief fund.
Two GOATs (Greatest Of All Time) – Tiger Woods & Tom Brady – and two of the top-5 greatest of all time – Phil Mickelson & Peyton Manning – enjoyed a competitive, yet friendly 18-hole match at prestigious Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, televided live by TNT sports. The entertaining event included mic’d up players, cart cams, riveting introductions, commentary by the affable Charles Barkley, roving golfer-turned-commentator Justin Thomas, superb camera shots and trash-talking that put an everlasting shine on the contest.
After a 45-minute rain delay, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady put on a show at Medalist. Tiger and Peyton held on for a well-deserved 1-up victory in the dark.
The format worked, the banter worked, the telecast worked, and the quality of the golf alternated between charmingly bad and surprisingly good. Here’s the break down of the 5-hour-plus show.
Liked: Format and fundraising – The biggest differences between Match I and Match II were the team concept and the charitable focus. Brady and Manning shouldered some of the conversational load, which allowed Tiger and Phil to relax and be themselves. Everyone, including the broadcast team, seemed to be having fun. Whereas the commentary for the 2018 match centered on the $9-million prize, yesterday’s event felt freer and less forced, and it contributed to a great cause.
Liked: Golf – For the first several holes, Tom Brady’s play was entertainingly putrid. He had a two-way miss going, and his short game was a mixture of chili dips and hosel-adjacency. As the internet skewering reached its peak, the new Bucs QB holed out from the 7th fairway. And when he picked his ball out of the cup, his pants split. I mean, golf.
Liked: Phil Mickelson’s short-game lessons – On the 2nd hole, Phil faced a tricky chip shot, and on-course commentator Justin Thomas asked him about his thought process. Phil never turns down such an opportunity. He discussed the grain and slickness of the grass in front of him, described what kind of shot he wanted to hit and why, and executed it almost perfectly. Awesome.
Liked: Tiger’s game – Tiger Woods was locked in at his home course. He striped it off the tee, made a great up-and-down from a bunker on the 9th hole, and carried himself with confidence. The time off appears to have done him some good. Let’s hope he has a healthy summer.
Liked: Manning’s wit – We expected Peyton to bring the lighthearted vibes, and he delivered. His easygoing presence allowed the dynamic between players to feel more organic than it did in the first match. It was four guys having fun rather than two superstars cashing in.
Liked: Alternate shot – The modified alternate-shot format on the back nine suited Phil’s talents and enabled him and Brady to make their charge. The best-ball nine was good, too—it really highlighted the contrast between the pros’ and the ams’ games—but seeing the teams work together was a lot of fun. And things started moving quicker, too.
Disliked: Gimme selection – No one watching wanted to see a lopsided match so when Tiger & Peyton were 3 up at the turn, they started giving Phil and Tom some long putts for halves. As a result, Phil and Tom stayed just 2 down. Then on the 14th hole, Manning had to putt a three-footer. He missed, narrowing the margin to one hole. On No. 17, Tom Brady left a lag at least five feet short, and Phil just picked it up. The obvious intention was to make sure the match reached the 18th hole, and it felt contrived.
Disliked: Bumping Barkley – With darkness falling, Charles Barkley wasn’t able to play the 18th as the fifth member of the group. Instead, TNT filmed him hacking his way up the hole earlier and played the tape after the match. While we enjoyed the battle down the stretch, it would have been fun to see Chuck interact with Tiger, Phil, Manning, and Brady. Next time.
LOVED: The telecast – Turner Sports nailed it. Brian Anderson, Trevor Immelman, and Amanda Balionis provided enough commentary but were never intrusive. Charles Barkley and Justin Thomas, who played off each other well, offered both comic relief and genuine insight. JT was particularly good; he seemed strikingly at ease for a first-time on-course reporter.
Now, golf audiences have a new choice: Watching yet another rerun of Caddyshack or rewind The Match: Champions for Charity!
(Material from FriedEgg.com was used in this report)