Tiger and Phil’s shot at redemption was a roaring success even if the weather didn’t play along.
Firstly, well done to the four players involved in The Match: Champions for Charity for sticking it out in pouring rain. After the first edition of this series – the encounter of winner takes all, charity be damned at Shadow Creek won by Mickelson – it was encouraging to see the players and producers knew there were far bigger things at stake.
They braved the damp conditions and put on a show.
And what a show it was … the early play was dominated by Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning, who would’ve beaten most teams and should’ve had a bigger advantage but for Tiger’s 4-iron lip-out on the one-club hole.
Only a Mickelson chipping masterclass prevented the match from heading to an embarrassing early finish.
Part of what made this match worthy of a late night were the characters involved – in South Africa we may be far removed from US sports but we know enough about Manning and Tom Brady to be on board. Charles Barkley is another name fairly familiar to our sporting minds and he brought some great commentary even if it wasn’t exactly ‘street legal’. Tiger’s dig at Phil for not winning the US Open was along the same theme.
Justin Thomas was another success on the mic as the on-course analyst; no doubt he has a career in the booth whenever the day comes for him to down tools. South Africa’s Trevor Immelman in the booth was also good value and provided some good insight into the woes of Brady, who was running out of balls after a shocking start.
Brady’s timeline this morning is still blowing up after his play over the first six holes. Thank goodness that he has a ball sponsorship because he’s going to need a restock.
It was great to see someone described as the best in his pro sport suffering with swing troubles and nerves. But then he bounced back with an unlikely hole-out on the seventh – take that, Barkley and Brooks Koepka – and helped Mickelson stay in the contest.
He got much better as it wore on (well, he couldn’t really get any worse) but failed to help Phil pull off the Hail Mary comeback.
Everything about The Match 2.0 was so much better than the first: more interaction, even adding cameras to the carts was a nice touch. The comms team were a massive hit and the play just about kept the actual golfing fans interested. The banter was solid and beefed up in parts by JT and led to an enormous amount of money raised for charity.
Let’s add Michael Jordan and Steph Curry and go again. Albeit with one eye on the forecast.