The intent was good. Have Tiger Woods square off against Phil Mickelson once again and sprinkle in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Do it all for charity and you’ve got a winner, right? While the plan was good, the execution wasn’t. If this was supposed to be the cure for our need for live sports, it just didn’t work.
‘The Match’ had all the hype
It was nearly two years ago when Phil Mickelson defeated Tiger Woods to take home the $9 million prize money. Now it’s the rematch of The Match, billed as “The Match: Champions for Charity.” Mickelson was teaming up with Tom Brady and Woods had Peyton Manning to add a little more flavor this go-round.
Neither Brady nor Manning were billed as top-notch golfers and it certainly proved to be true. Manning and Brady have proven to be big-time competitors so some sort of pride was on the line. Bragging rights aside, the most important part of the event was to help raise money for COVID-19 relief.
Mickelson vs. Tiger brought in a lot of hype and exceeded viewer expectations, according to CNBC.com. The rematch was looking to build upon that first meeting. The weather also brought on some challenges of its own as rain was center stage early on. The event was also billed as a way to help the sports fan get some live sports after nearly three months of ESPN Classics.
This was the XFL version of professional golf
Like the XFL did during its short-lives second run, The Match gave the viewer some unique behind-the-scenes looks at the golfers as they moved along the course. The golfers were mic’d up, making things interesting as the XFL did during instant replays and while coaches were calling plays.
Celebrities such as Charles Barkley were also involved in donating to the COVID-19 relief. On the par-3, 184-yard fourth hole, Woods collected $25,000 for charity, winning closest to the pin. Brady could’ve added $50,000 to that total, courtesy of Barkley, but he missed badly. Barkley barked, “I should’ve given $50,000 if you hit it on the planet.”
The gimmicks were also there. On the fifth hole (par 4, 382 yards), the golfers were allowed to use just one club for the entire hole. Brady was pretty much a non-factor early on, while Manning was slightly better. Brady did, however, redeem himself with a ridiculous eagle on No. 7. Despite that shot, it was clear the two were there to add some humor to the event and to spice up the ratings.
Peyton Manning’s trash talk took center stage
Peyton Manning is the king on one-liners and while his golf left a lot to be desired, his quick wit was a hit. Manning said Brady should’ve brought Rob Gronkowski with him because Gronkowski always does what Brady tells him to do. He was obviously referring to Gronk coming out of retirement and following Brady to Tampa Bay to play for the Buccaneers this season.
Manning also said he should’ve had his brother Eli or Nick Foles as his caddy, the two quarterbacks that beat Brady in the Super Bowl. Brady laughed and called it a cheap shot. Brady may have gotten the best of Manning on the football field, but Manning is the clear winner in the trash-talking department.
All in all, The Match was entertaining for comedy purposes only. I did absolutely nothing, however, as far as filling that void for live sports.