So I’ve now seen the recording of The Match 2 and expected to scroll through the tiresome bits. But instead I was riveted. This was quite a triumph, not least because the event has raised over $20 million for the four Covid Relief charities.
Although Tiger had downplayed the strength in his back, not having had any competitive play for over 100 days, he drove the ball magnificently, hitting all 14 fairways. Peyton Manning was a good partner who played his part and they built up a big lead on the front nine in torrential rain. On the other team quarterback Tom Brady suffered some abysmal shots in the first 6 holes and then miraculously holed out from the fairway on 7. He played the underdog that the TV audience could relate to, and when he tore his trousers there was no caddie to provide a spare pair.
Tiger won $1.75 million for the longest drive on the third hole and $125,000 for nearest the pin on the fourth but the bookmakers were also doing brisk business. DK Sportsbook said that the event broke their record for betting on a golf event.
Although pro golfers may have reservations about being miked up for broadcasting in regular PGA Tour events because it may give away strategy or swing thoughts, in this made for television event it created an atmosphere we’ve rarely seen before. It wasn’t like the forced banter in The Match last November. This time Justin Thomas and Charles Barkley in the television commentary team brought a sparkly energy to the event, which it needed without crowd reaction.
Mickelson and Brady fought on the back nine and in doing so Mickelson became even more talkative. And Tiger became quieter. It reminded me of the time that Lee Trevino and Tony Jacklin were paired in the final round of a major and Jacklin announced on the tee “I don’t want to talk today”.
“That’s allright” replied Trevino “You can just listen”.
And it came across like this that he was talking for the sake of it, to provide the atmosphere that was missing without the crowd. When the Tour resumes in two weeks there will be no spectators, but will the players agree to wear microphones? It’s a huge distraction in tournament play and provides a level of access that athletes arent normally willing to give.
But for this event the banter with the broadcasters and phone in guests like Jennifer Lopez offering items to auction, saved it from being a long winded and hollow event. And it went down to the wire with Tiger and Peyton Manning winning on the 18th one hole.
Impressively done, a success all round, particularly for charity.