Homa’s live mic, Rose’s course load, Charles Barkley: 10 best moments of The Match IX

Rose Zhang, Lexi Thompson, Max Homa and Rory McIlroy all played in the Match IX.

The Match IX had no shortage of commentary.

Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The ninth edition of The Match delivered no shortage of smack talk, heroics, zingers and classic Charles Barkley antics.

All of those things just barely made up for the excess of DJ Khaled.

In the end, after the last four skins of the 12-hole match were pushed to a sudden-death closest-to-the-pin challenge, Rory McIlroy hit a dart to 4-feet-2-inches, netting $1.9 million to be donated to The First Tee in his name. Lexi Thompson finished second with $200,000 for winning the first two skins, while Rose Zhang and Max Homa each failed to win a skin.

But the best part of The Match is what happens in between shots, because it’s one of the few times we get to hear the best players mic’d up for the entirety of a round.

With that, here were the best moments from The Match IX.

1. Rory’s fall

Things got off to a hot start when McIlroy pushed his opening tee shot to the right. It ended up settling in between a sod seem on top of the lip of a bunker.

As soon as McIlroy tried to take his stance, he immediately fell backward into the bunker.

“That looked like Charles earlier,” TNT Analyst Trevor Immelman said, referring to Barkley’s match earlier in the day on a par-3 against Khaled.

McIlroy quickly jumped out of the bunker and punched the shot down the fairway. But things didn’t get much better for him as he overcooked his draw and his ball ended up right at Zhang’s feet.

“Hi ladies!” McIlroy said.

“Don’t worry Rory, you’ll get to the ladies’ tee shots eventually,” said analyst Christina Kim.

“Good start!”

2. Barkley takes shots at Shaq

It didn’t take long for Sir Charles to start smack-talking people who couldn’t defend themselves.

Zhang had just given a shoutout to her former Stanford teammate Aline Krauter, a German LPGA pro, after she saw her around the green.

Kim added that Krauter had taught her the word for hippopotamus in German,nNilpferd.

“I know a hippopotamus, he works on TNT on Thursday nights,” Barkley said, tossing shade at his Inside the NBA cohost Shaquille O’Neal.

3. Lexi’s high-five prowess

After the players pushed the first skin, Thompson earned the carry-over on the 2nd hole by draining a long eagle putt from off the green at the drivable par-4.

But perhaps a more impressive show of athleticism was her smoothly high-fiving Zhang, switching to a fist-bump for Homa and then flipping back for a high-five to McIlroy.

“I didn’t know how coordinated I was,” Thompson joked.

4. Fore?

This year’s Match was played under the lights at The Park in West Palm Beach, but even with all the floodlights in South Florida, it can still be tough to see exactly where your ball is going.

Such was the case for Max Homa on the 4th hole.

In a one-club challenge, Homa, who chose a 7-wood, hooked his tee shot into a deep waste bunker.

But when he hit his second toward the green, he didn’t know where it went.

“I mean … fore?” Homa asked with a shrug. “FORE! I have no idea.”

Luckily, Homa’s second shot missed left, but Kim put him at ease.

“Don’t worry Max, you didn’t quite get to anybody up there,” she said.

“OK, thank goodness.”

5. Chuck playing lit

While temporary floodlights were set up on The Park’s 18-hole golf course, the facility also has a nine-hole course with permanent lights.

It’s called the “Lit 9.” Barkley seemed drawn to the title.

“For the record, I’ve played the nine holes lit many a time,” he joked.

6. Charles Barkley, golf broadcasting critic

On the 6th hole, McIlroy missed the par-5 green with his second shot in a greenside bunker, which led Immelman to deliver a common golf broadcast line.

“He’s far enough up there, if he gets on the upslope, he’ll be OK,” Immelman, CBS’s regular lead analyst said.

Barkley was quick to take issue.

“I hate when you guys say that on TV, Trevor,” he said. “Like, if it’s on the upslope it’s an easy bunker shot. That drives me nuts.”

“It is if you got Rory McIlroy’s talent,” Immelman joked.

“We’re amateurs. We stink. Most amateurs stink. There’s no easy golf shot,” Barkley continued.

“Well if you hit in there, I would have said, Charles is dead right here. He’s got no chance. But that’s Rory McIlroy.”

Sure enough, McIlroy delivered, knocking the short bunker shot in tight and making the putt for his third and fourth skins of the evening.

“As Trevor said, I got it far enough up in the bunker where even Chuck could have gotten it up and down,” McIlroy joked.

7. Rose’s course load

Zhang was making her first competitive appearance since the LPGA season-opening Tournament of Champions in January. She revealed Monday night was the first time she been on a golf course in a month as she continues a heavy, 20-credit course load at Stanford while balancing professional golf.

“I’m hitting by miles!” Zhang said after her hit it over the 8th green.

“In fairness, you’ve been in class a lot,” Barkley said.

In fact, Zhang is headed right back to class Tuesday and she lands back in California at 3:30 a.m. P.T. before her 9 a.m. COMM 104W class.

8. Max Homa upsets his mom

Despite opening with birdies on the first three holes, Homa had yet to net a skin by the 8th hole.

He did earn $100k by having the closest approach at the 8th, but he ran his par effort about four feet by.

“Rory is going to make me putt that,” Homa said as the ball scooted by the cup.

“I am going to make you putt that,” McIlroy said, having already secured a par, with Zhang and Thompson having mid-range par efforts.

But the LPGA pros got Homa to hit his tester first.

“You guys are bad people,” Homa said. “My mom is watching. Could you imagine this, my mom is gonna watch me three-putt from 15 feet?”

Homa psyched himself out. His putt motored over the high lip.

“Pressure is on you guys now,” Homa told Thompson and Zhang as they had to make their par efforts to avoid handing two more skins to McIlroy.

They both missed.

“I’m not going to go to sleep,” Homa said.

9. Max goes lefty

On the next hole, Homa hooked his drive, enough to wonder if he should shout fore again.

“Don’t worry about it Max, there ain’t no people over there,” Barkley said as Homa’s ball found a bush.

Homa found the ball, but it didn’t leave much of a shot.

Homa managed to get it out of the bush, but his emerging from the wilderness left us with one of the lasting images from The Match IX.

10. Rory’s dagger

After all four players made birdie on the par-5 12th, there was a closest-to-the-pin challenge to settle the final four skins.

McIlroy wasted little time hitting the 100-yard shot first, throwing it right at the flag and stopping it just four feet away.

McIlroy said he took an extra club on the shot to avoid it spinning back too far.

“That’s a great tip,” Barkley said.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.