“The Match” between Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson vs. Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods was one of the few sporting events we’ve had in the last two months after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., and it was a welcome respite from the current world.
Despite a rain delay threatening a postponement of the anticipated match, the all-time greats in their respective sports put on an entertaining show to highlight a sports-free Memorial Day Weekend.
The pairing of Manning and Woods outlasted a late rally from Mickelson and Brady on the back nine to win “The Match,” and the event raised $20 million for COVID-19 charities.
Here’s what stood out the most to us:
Tom Brady, He’s Just Like Us -- Sorta
Brady and Mickelson entered this match as favorites, but it did not take long for America to find out that Brady is human on the golf course like anyone else.
The six-time Super Bowl champion struggled through the front nine, searching for his ball in the wooded area and chip shots going nowhere.
Charles Barkley, who seemed to enjoy bantering with Brady throughout the day, also could empathize with him though.
“You can be great at one sport, and not great at another sport,” he reminded us all. “I just want America to know that.”
But Brady had perhaps the shot of the day, too.
On the seventh hole, Brady birdied from more than 100 yards out sending the announcers and Twitter into a frenzy.
Brady relished the moment, but it was not long before he returned to being one of us as he split his pants as he went to retrieve his ball.
Brady played better throughout the rest of the day, but his sluggish start may have cost him and Mickelson the victory.
Perhaps the best thing about “The Match” was that all four participants were mic’d up and interacting with each other and the broadcast crew, all for the audience to hear.
This, naturally, led to some trash talk with Manning jumping on Brady before the event even began about choosing his brother, Eli, or Nick Foles as his caddy.
Brady would get Manning back later in the day, though, mocking the former Tennessee quarterback’s Volunteers-themed driver head cover.
“They haven’t been good since you left,” Brady said.
Brady also got in a Falcons joke, too, when talking with Justin Thomas on the broadcast, but also gave a tip of the hat to the Eagles.
Overall, the trash talking was rather mild between the two quarterbacks. What was more entertaining was probably Charles Barkley’s interaction with everyone from the broadcast booth, particularly Brady.
When Brady was struggling early, Barkley said he would donate $50,000 out of his own pocket if Brady hit the green on a par 3. Brady sliced it into the treeline, naturally, and Barkley added, “I should have just said if you can keep it on the planet.”
Barkley continued to pick on Brady during hole 7 when Brady silenced the NBA Hall of Famer with an unexpected birdie.
“Take a suck of that, Chuck,” Brady said.
In addition to the Barkley and Brady banter, hearing the tips and advice the Mickelson and Woods were giving the quarterbacks, as well as their own approaches, gave us some interesting insight into what they are thinking while they are playing.
While following along on social media is nothing out of the ordinary for big-time sporting events, there was still a different feel to this as athletes from all over were watching and commentating.
Brooks Koepka, inspired by Barkley’s wager with Brady, decided to tweet that he would put up $100,000 if Brady were to make par on the front nine. Brady, of course, did and the broadcast crew was able to even get Koepka on the phone for a bit.
Meanwhile, it felt like every athlete was tuned in and offering some commentary.
Steph Curry tweeted that he wanted in on the next one. JJ Watt was live-tweeting the whole match. Nick Foles, after getting wind of Manning’s trash talk, was offering up tips on how to beat Brady. And Eli Manning, new to Twitter on Saturday, was providing all sorts of humorous takes throughout the event.
That, plus all the jokes and hot takes of Brady’s play made Twitter quite the place to be during “The Match.”
Worth the Watch
At the end of the day, while the event was for a charitable cause, it proved to be an entertaining and close sporting event that lived up to the hype. The best ball format on the front nine and switching to alternate shot on the back nine kept things interesting and the winner came down to the final hole.
Phil and Brady were celebrating with socially distant high-fives, and Peyton and Tiger were locked in like it was the Masters or Super Bowl.
As professional sports leagues begin to ramp things up and try to get back in action, “The Match” proved to be a great appetizer and much-needed sporting event to fill up the holiday weekend.