PGA Tour stars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were a natural choice for “The Match: Champions for Charity” being played Sunday. There are others ahead of them in the current rankings, but it’s hard to argue with their name recognition and the number of people who tune in to televised events just because they’re playing.
Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who’ll partner with Mickelson and Woods, respectively, were brought into the event for much the same reason. Each has a reputation as being a solid golfer, so they aren’t likely to embarrass themselves – at least not too much. But if Woods and Mickelson wanted super-serious celebrity partners from the sports world, there were better NFL choices.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson plus two QBs
Golf fans know the accomplishments of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson by heart, beginning with their combined 20 championships in the four majors. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning won’t be matching them shot for shot at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, but their credentials are solid.
Golf Digest pegs Manning’s handicap at 6.1, making him better than five out of six players on the links, and Brady’s at 8.1. As sound as their games are, the legendary quarterbacks aren’t even necessarily the most competitive quarterbacks available.
Among active players, Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers is reputed to be close to a scratch golfer and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints carries a three handicap. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is in the same range as Brady.
Tony Romo is proof that retires QBs can play golf
If Peyton Manning was the first retired QB choice by organizers of Sunday’s charity event, then Tony Romo was probably No. 2 on the list. The former Dallas Cowboys star, now the most acclaimed football analyst on television, carries a 0.4 handicap to rate within the top 1% of players.
Romo received sponsor exemptions into the PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in 2017 and ’18 and wasn’t competitive against relatively weak fields. He followed up later in 2018 by making it through the first stage of the three-part qualifying school for the Web.com Tour.
Last fall, Romo turned heads at the Safeway Open in Napa, California, with an opening-round 72 while playing on another sponsor exemption. The second round didn’t go as well, but even the pros came away impressed with Romo’s game.
The idea for Sunday’s match isn’t original
Tony Romo wasn’t the only celebrity from another sport playing the Safeway Classic last year, though NBA star Stephen Curry’s participation was limited to teeing it up in the pro-am with Phil Mickelson.
Whereas Mickelson and Tiger Woods had already played a head-to-head match in Las Vegas in November 2018, ESPN reports that the idea for turning the rematch into a pairs showdown may have come at the Safeway Classic. Mickelson, Curry, and Romo kicked the idea around long before the actual match this weekend got put together.
The event would have been nearly impossible to pull together without a charitable cause to play for and an opening in the official PGA Tour calendar. Sure enough, the coronavirus pandemic created the opportunity.