Breaking down The Match II: Who will shine? Who’s facing the most pressure? We break it all down
After getting a glimpse of Seminole last weekend, more bonus golf is on the way. The Match: Champions for Charity kicks off at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla. Tiger Woods and Peyton Maning face off against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. What do you need to know? Our staff breaks it down.
What are you most looking forward to with this match?
Sean Zak, senior editor (@Sean_Zak): Tom Brady losing. Seriously, the guy wins at everything in life. Looking for Peyton to finally show him who’s boss.
Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): The tweets. Even after two months without the game, Golf Twitter was in mid-season form last weekend. The online banter is almost as good as the on-course product and I can’t wait to read all the hot takes for the second weekend in a row.
Josh Sens, senior writer (@JoshSens): I look forward to Brady winning and then listening to haters like Zak complain that the golf balls were improperly deflated. The on-course banter should be fun, too.
James Colgan, assistant editor (@JamesColgan26): Zak makes a compelling argument, but has there ever been a more psychologically dominant tandem than Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods? I can’t wait to hear those two talk through the round and at a course that’s likely to give all four golfers fits.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer (@Alan_Shipnuck): I can’t wait to see Tiger swing the club! Don’t forget how much he was struggling physically before the season was put on hold. The outcome of this match doesn’t matter but it will be significant to give us an update on Tiger’s progress.
Speaking of Seminole, give us one reason why THIS match will be better than that one. And one reason why it won’t be as good.
Zak: It’ll be goofy and in that, hopefully, unpredictable. We knew we were gonna get long-drive competitions last weekend. This weekend, we’re apparently getting some Charles Barkley action, with Justin Thomas commentary? Watching a broadcast where you really don’t know what’s coming is a lot of fun.
Melton: I’d imagine there will be far less dead time to fill with players riding in carts around the course. That in itself will make it better than last weekend’s broadcast, which got flat at times. Plus having JT and Charles Barkley providing insight will be fun to see.
Sens: The modified alternate shot should be especially good fun. Here’s hoping that the amateurs leave the pros in some awful spots, and the other way around. The most exciting shot in golf is the recovery shot, after all. Even better if there is smack talk and taunting going on in the backdrop. On the downside, we won’t get to watch Matt Wolff’s wildly eccentric swing. It’s always nice to be reminded of how many ways there are to get it done in golf.
Colgan: From a viewing standpoint, this match knows what it is. Last week’s did not. I’m not expecting we see TNT offer analysis like it’s any other week on Tour. That won’t work given the format, and it’s something NBC’s broadcast fell into repeatedly last weekend. Turner won’t be afraid to make it about entertainment. If this match is worse than last week’s, it’s because the golf isn’t on-par with the conditions. Still, I’m optimistic.
Shipnuck: The Seminole match had a serious personality-deficit, but not so with this one. Tiger and Phil were both pretty awkward at Shadow Creek but now they know what to expect and what is needed from them so I expect them to be a lot chattier. And Tom and Peyton are exceedingly comfortable in front of the camera.
Which of the four players is the most important to making this event really flourish?
Zak: It’s Tiger, because we’ve seen Phil be a teacher and we’ve seen Brady play before in pro-ams. Tiger being jovial, interested in his partner’s success, playing good golf (for a change from The Match I) and not saying cliched lines would be entertaining like we haven’t seen in a while.
Melton: Tiger. The other names are a big deal, but as the saying goes, Tiger IS the needle in golf. If he’s fully engaged and playing well, people will go berserk.
Sens: Can’t argue with Tiger as the single biggest draw. But the important fifth man here is the chemistry that does or doesn’t develop among them. I’m thinking it will be good. At least, the early signs have been promising. Like Tiger, Brady isn’t exactly known for giving good press conferences. But in this relaxed context, with entertaining off-the-cuff talkers like Manning and Mickelson in the mix, we should get to eavesdrop on some refreshingly un-canned chatter.
Shipnuck: Peyton! The dude has hosted SNL multiple times and is the gold standard for creating funny jock TV commercials. He might carry this whole thing.
Colgan: It’s got to be Brady. Sunday marks his first time publicly away from the Death Star (New England) in any capacity. Will we see a brand new TB12? Doubtful. But playing alongside the notoriously chatty Phil (and against his greatest rival), there’s a chance we learn something new. Plus, his golf game seems to be in the most questionable shape.
Is there a ton of pressure on Brady and Manning to play well to make this event a success?
Zak: Not really, but I think it would be at its best if they both play well and the event becomes akin to everyone’s Saturday foursome, where some players are better than others but who plays best is still a guessing game.
Melton: Not at all. Having two average golfers playing alongside some of the game’s best — no matter how they play — will provide a valuable barometer for just how good the pros are. Even if the ams play well, they’re still going to look horrendous next to Tiger and Phil. If nothing else, Brady and Manning will give the casual viewer a look at how wide the gap is between pros and weekend hackers.
Sens: No. But I bet they’re both hoping they don’t top one off the first tee.
Shipnuck: The worse they play the better! It will be fun to watch them suffer.
Colgan: They don’t have to play well, they just have to play the same. Good, bad, or otherwise, it doesn’t matter so long as they’re within range of each other.
Lastly, this will be better than Tiger and Phil’s first match in Las Vegas because…
Zak: Because we’re in the middle of a pandemic and we’ve got not much else. That hopefully sounds optimistic because I’m excited for it. It’s just that The Match I was billed as a big pay-per-view event on the middle of a holiday football weekend. This comes at a time where we are much more starved for Tiger and his buddies.
Melton: I have to agree with Zak here. Just having some sort of live sports on TV these days is awesome to see. Last weekend’s match might not have been very interesting, but I was still glued to the action for five hours. And for the sake of transparency, I didn’t even watch the first match in Vegas, so maybe I’m not the best one to answer this question…
Sens: Let’s be honest. Staring at a blank wall would have been more compelling than that cynical snoozefest in Vegas. This time, we’ve got more personalities in the mix, more golf to watch and nothing but good reasons to root for its success.
Colgan: It seems to know what it is. The Match I couldn’t decide if it wanted to be fun or serious, so it was neither. The Match II seems to have struck the right chord — fun, but still worth something.
Shipnuck: …it can’t be worse.