Charles Barkley is playing with Phil Mickelson. One of the best of all time. Five majors. Forty-four PGA Tour victories. His own brand of coffee. He’s playing on a course Lefty owns, Stone Canyon Club in Arizona. He’s playing against just a former NFL quarterback and a current NBA guard.
Charles Barkley is also playing golf.
Friday, when the third Match tees off, you can bet on Mickelson and his bombs. Or you can bet on Peyton Manning and his win in the second Match, where he teamed with Tiger Woods to beat Mickelson and Tom Brady. Or you can bet on Steph Curry and his barely-above-scratch handicap.
But, really, it comes down to this:
Can you really bet on Charles Barkley playing golf?
You’ve seen the swing. You’ve heard the chuckles. And Vegas knows what you’ve seen and heard. At FanDuel, the team of Mickelson and Barkley is listed at +138, while the Manning and Curry team is listed at -175. Your $100 bet on Mickelson-Barkley wins you $238, while your $100 bet on Manning-Curry wins you $158.
For his part, Barkley said his swing has improved. And the format for the event is modified alternate-shot match play, where each player will hit a tee shot, the best one is chosen, and the shot alternating will then begin. Or, more simply put, it won’t all be up to Barkley.
Let’s help your Barkley bet.
Three members of our staff — myself, Jessica Marksbury and Josh Sens — are making bets using odds from DraftKings. The three of us were the leaders of our staff’s weekly picks game, which ended for the year with the Masters.
Here’s who we are betting on for The Match: Champions for Change, with TV coverage starting at 3 p.m. ET on TNT:
To-win: Steph Curry-Peyton Manning, -175. An alternate-shot format just seems like too high a mountain to climb for Phil Mickelson when he’s saddled with a player like Charles Barkley (sorry, Chuck!). Curry is a stick who has proven he can play well in the limelight, and Manning should be able to hold his own. Even if Barkley has a pretty good day, he’s bound to put Phil in some compromising positions — and Phil isn’t exactly bulletproof off the tee, either. So, that’s all a long-winded way of saying my money’s on Curry/Manning.
To-win: Phil Mickelson-Charles Barkley, +138. Per usual, Jessica offers a sound assessment of things. But the key for me is the odds. Mickelson and Barkley are underdogs, and Curry and Manning are laying a good amount of juice. Given the randomness of alternate-shot, and the fact that this is a tight, target-y course, I think we can count on Manning being in almost as much trouble as Barkley, and as great a player as Curry is, he’s not Mickelson, among the greatest escape artists of all time. The other factor is this: Barkley has reportedly made huge improvements. We’ll see if he can put them into play when the lights go on, but if he plays even halfway to his potential (he was a single-digit golfer before the demons got him), he won’t be far behind Peyton. I’ll take Sir Charles and Phil, getting the odds.
To-win: Phil Mickelson-Charles Barkley, +138. I’m betting on the best golfer, on a course he knows. But, yeah, as I wrote above, I can’t believe I’m betting on Charles Barkley playing golf. Come on, Chuckster!