Sometimes the sequel is just better.
At least on paper, part 2 of the Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson showdown – The Match: Champions for Charity – should be an improvement from the original.
Woods will team up with former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and square off against the pairing of Mickelson and current NFL star Tom Brady on Sunday in a televised 18-hole round that will net a $10 million donation to COVID-19 relief.
This one will take on a far different tone than the original ‘Match’ on Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, which was almost universally seen as a flop.
Last time around, it was just Tiger and Phil facing off for a winner-take-all $9 million prize, and that made for a serious and tense 4 hours of TV. It’s not exactly what viewers were hoping for.
Turner is broadcasting the event again and it apparently learned from its mistakes by making this a charity event, because who needs to see super rich guys get even richer? The network also injected some fun by adding the notorious trash-talking Manning and his longtime football nemesis in Brady.
Here’s some other suggestions on how to spice up the encore even more.
What we liked:
Hearing star athletes mic’d up while they’re competing is always fun. As was the case in 2018, there will be no fans following the players, which means we’ll get all the banter and reactions to shots.
While the conversation went dry at times between Tiger and Phil, it was still fun to hear pro golfers react the way we all do to a bad drive. Grunts, sighs, self-scolding.
And forget about the PG-rated stuff. Let’s hear some bad words after a shanked drive. Don’t worry, Turner can bleep it out.
A peek into golfing elite
These events tend to take place at very exclusive, top-notch courses which the general public will never get anywhere near.
Sunday will be no different as they tee it up at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, about 100 miles up the Atlantic coast from Miami. It’s a course with a small and elite membership, including several PGA and LPGA players. One of them is Tiger Woods, who lives just a few minutes away and plays the course regularly.
Medalist is rated as one of the toughest courses in the world, yet fans never get to see it because it doesn’t host any major tournaments. Much like in 2018 when Tiger and Phil played Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, we’ll get an in-depth viewing of a rarely seen golfing gem.
He’s back for round 2! Barkley provided some desperately needed comic relief and authenticity to the otherwise stuffy broadcast in 2018, so it was a good move to bring him back.
He delivered the memorable and brutally honest take during that round: “I just wanna let America know this is some crappy golf.”
Sunday’s commentary will also include PGA golfer Justin Thomas, which is a good move because Thomas is not only charismatic but he’s also a member at Medalist and good friends with Tiger.
What we didn’t like:
You had to pay $20 to watch it last time, and even after forking over the cash many viewers said the stream didn’t work. Turner rightfully agreed to refund customers because of the technical glitch, but the whole thing left a bad taste in many people’s mouths.
Sunday’s match can be watched FOR FREE (as long as you have a cable subscription) on TNT, TBS, truTV or HLN at 3 p.m. ET.
Why so serious?
We get it, there was $9 million on the line. But would it have killed Tiger and Phil to loosen up a bit? Even Phil admitted they ‘clamped up’ and he promises more trash talk this time.
This is where Manning and Brady should help a lot.
What about women?
It’s too late now, but next time we have a big golf game for charity, why not include a few LPGA golfers?
She has a point. While men’s golf draws higher TV ratings and drives more revenue, the women’s game will never get the chance to grow if it’s not given exposure at times like these.
What we’d like to see:
There was promise of side bets in the 2018 matchup, but very little follow through. Obviously, any ‘side bet’ on Sunday should be an excuse to donate to charity because anything else would be bad optics.
Either way, it’d be fun to see Tiger challenge Phil to a few closest-to-pin shots on par 3s or for Brady to compete with Manning for longest drive. Maybe Tiger and Phil swap clubs (righty vs. lefty) and see who can hit the best drive. Anything goes. Be creative.
Live talk with players
A golf game has inevitable gaps of time to fill while players chase down each shot. So, let’s have the commentators strike up some conversations with the players while they’re walking.
Ask Brady why he left the Patriots and how many games he thinks he’ll win with the Buccaneers this year. Surely, Barkley won’t hold back.
Superstars looking human
Brady and Manning have eight Super Bowl titles and eight NFL MVPs between them. They are superhuman on the football field.
The golf course is a different story. Brady has a registered handicap of 8.1 and Manning’s is 6.4. Both solid, but these guys will be far from perfect. There’s a decent chance we’ll see one of them duff a shot or slice one into the trees.
Maybe just for a moment, these legendary athletes will look just like one of us.
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