In the end, it will go down as a 1-up win for Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning over Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady The Match: Champions for Charity, which raised $20 million for coronavirus relief. But what a ride it was to get to the final result.
And also to the crew and staff working through that weather. Good times and some much needed live competition for us all.
And all for a great cause. #TheMatch
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) May 25, 2020
After a 45-minute weather delay, the fun started. There was entertaining banter from the players and from Tour-player-turned-broadcaster-for-the-day Justin Thomas and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. There was some good golf; there was some bad golf. There was Tom Brady’s wild ride, from water hazards to flubbed chips to an unlikely hole out from the fairway to splitting his pants open.
I feel like this is the first opportunity Twitter has ever had to make fun of @tombrady . Let’s make it count. Might never happen again
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) May 24, 2020
As sports slowly returns, this was a good way to spend an afternoon and early evening. Here’s how it all went down:
Scoreboard: Tiger Woods/Peyton Manning 1 up win Phil Mickelson/Tom Brady
No. 18: Par 4
Manning had one job after Woods found yet another fairway at the 18th: Do not hit it right into the water. Manning did exactly that, putting the ball on the green. Woods hit a beautiful lag putt from 40 feet to give his team the par that secured the victory.
No. 17: Par 5
In this format, modified alternate shot, a lot could go wrong on a par-5. This time, it didn’t. Both teams had 25-footers for birdie by playing a solid hole. Manning again rolled his birdie putt close for gimme par. Brady didn’t give his a shot of going in, but it was close enough for a conceded par. Another tie.
No. 16: Par 3
All four players hit the green. Who would have taken the bet that Tiger Woods would be the farthest away? First, Brady stepped up and hit his tee shot to 8 feet. Mickelson followed and hit it to 10 feet. Then, up stepped Peyton Manning. His tee shot came to rest 17 inches from the hole. Three tee shots, all inside 15 feet. Woods’ next shot came to rest 40 feet away, so clearly they were going to use Manning’s shot. Two birdies and an entertaining tie for the hole.
No. 15: Par 4
This hole turned into a putting contest. Both teams had long, long birdie putts. Brady went first and drilled his putt 15-feet past the hole. Manning, meanwhile, cozied his birdie effort up close to gimme range. That put a lot of pressure on Mickelson to make to keep the match close.
Phil Mickelson just gave six-time Super Bowl winning Tom Brady the “That’s alright” you give your partner when they are completely tanking and not helping but you want to be nice. #TheMatch
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) May 24, 2020
All Mickelson did was walk up to it and drill it in the center of the cup to keep things close.
No. 14: Par 4
Under most circumstances, the putt Peyton Manning had for par would have been conceded in a friendly match. Things have changed in this one, as Mickelson and Brady try to get close. So they made Manning putt the short one — and he missed. A big win for Mickelson/Brady.
ESPN Senior Writer
COMEBACK HAPPENING!?! Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady were 3 down at the turn. Now they’re only 1 down to Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning thru 14 holes!!!
No. 13: Par 5
While the match got better, the weather got worse. The rain returned — with force.
I’d keep playing. I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite awhile
— Eli Manning (@EliManning) May 24, 2020
In the downpour, Manning missed an 10-footer for par. Mickelson and Brady had a chance again to cut the deficit to 1-down, but Mickelson missed on the low side from 8 feet. Two bogeys for another tied hole.
No. 12: Par 3
Brady and Mickelson had a chance to get another one and close the gap even more. Brady’s 12-footer for birdie hit the edge and spun away. The amount of chatter from Mickelson, who has been talkative all day, would have been nonstop heading to the 13th tee had that gone in.
No. 11: Par 4
On a short, driveable, par 4 Mickelson got aggressive. He hit it over the trees and got it on the back fringe, giving Brady a putt for eagle. “High. Nasty. Straight. Bombs,” Mickelson said. And then Brady rolls in the putt – for eagle — for the team’s first win of the day.
Brady.. clutch AGAIN!!!#TheMatch2
— Michael Eaves (@michaeleaves) May 24, 2020
No. 10: Par 4
The first modified alternate-shot format hole went, surprisingly, smooth. No hazards. Balls were in the fairway and near the green. Who would have thought? A pair of pars. Didn’t see that coming.
No. 9: Par 4
The last hole of calm. Another tied hole. So Woods/Manning head to the back nine still in control. But now anything can happen, with the format changing to modified alternate shot. All four players will hit drives, then choose the best one. From there, they will alternate who hits until the hole is finished.
OK, now the fun starts. Beginning at the 10th hole, the format changes to alternate shot. That means Brady and Manning cannot hide. Their shots, no matter how bad, will really start to impact this match.
No. 8: Par 3
Well, everybody needed to take a breather after all the drama from Brady at the seventh. A tied hole. So they all drive their carts over to the ninth with Tiger/Peyton still in command.
No. 7: Par 5
This one is almost impossible to describe, but we’ll try. Tom Brady had been terrible, and that’s putting it mildly. Then this happened:
Hang on, did that just happen????? Charles Barkley just got done torching Brady and his golf game. Brady, as his mic falls off mid-swing, then holes out from the fairway for birdie. And he split his pants while doing it. If you didn’t know this already, here is your reminder: Golf makes no sense.
Now, watch it
— ESPN (@espn) May 24, 2020
The internet lost it.
You got to be kidding!!!!! #TheMatch2
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) May 24, 2020
— Gisele Bündchen (@giseleofficial) May 24, 2020
Of course, it didn’t matter, because Woods made birdie to tie the hole. Still, it’s going to be impossible to top that.
No. 6: Par 4
This was another hole in which Brady and Manning got a stroke. It didn’t help Brady.
I’ve always felt like Tom Brady and I had a lot in common, but after watching his golf game, I actually think we might have been separated at birth. #TheMatch
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) May 24, 2020
But it did help Manning. He made a par, which means it counts as a net birdie and another win.
It should also be noted just how smooth Woods’ game has been so far.
While everyone focuses on how bad Tom Brady has been — and he’s been really bad — it’s easy to not notice how good Tiger looks so far. He’s hitting it well, moving well. Remember, even before the pandemic shut down the sports world, Woods was on a long break with a stiff back.
No. 5: Par 4
The fifth hole was a one-club challenge, meaning the players had to play the entire hole with the same club. Woods, with a 4-iron, and Mickelson, with a 6-iron, made bogey to tie the hole. Brady, with one club, was just as bad as he’d been with his entire bag at his disposal, which prompted this:
— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) May 24, 2020
Poor Tom…..we’ve all been there buddy. One par ….for Koepka! Come on TB12!
— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) May 24, 2020
“I can do that,” Brady said. “It’s coming. I’m saving them up.”
No. 4: Par 3
Brady, excited to be able to hit off grass for a change, makes a mess off the tee and with his pitch.
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) May 24, 2020
ESPN Senior Writer
“When does football season start?” – Tom Brady after his tee shot on the 4th hole.
To make things worse for Brady, Manning rolls in a 30-footer for birdie to win the hole. For a change, Woods and Mickelson didn’t matter on this one.
No. 3: Par 5
The third hole came with a few wrinkles:
The pros had a long-drive challenge, which Woods won after Mickelson went wide left
Manning and Brady both got a shot on the hole, meaning basically they got to knock one off their total score for the hole. They needed the help after two awful tee shots
Brady and Manning are struggling at the start of this. Luckily, it’s best-ball format, so Mickelson and Woods can bail them out. Wait till the back nine, when it moves to alternate-shot format and what they do will actually matter. Tiger and Phil might be hitting shots from places they’ve never seen before.
Tom Brady might need a calculator to add up his score on the par-5 third hole.
Tom has to be a couple seconds away from a club toss here…
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) May 24, 2020
So, again, this came down to Tiger and Phil. Woods got up and down from just over the green for the day’s first birdie and the first victory of the day.
No. 2: Par 4
Manning made a wardrobe change, switching to a NOLA hat. It worked, as he hit a perfect drive and second shot. Brady, well, things didn’t get much better for him. His second shot from the bunker went into the hazard. It was so bad, the six-time Super Bowl champ even apologized to Mickelson. Luckily, it’s best-ball format on the front nine, meaning Mickelson’s par bailed them out. Woods and Manning posted an easy par, even as Manning heckled his opponents for talking a little too loudly as he lined up his birdie putt.
Phil explaining a pitch shot from off the green is all-world Phil… and then he hits it tight
— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) May 24, 2020
No. 1: Par 4
After a 45-minute weather delay, it wasn’t the prettiest first hole. Mickelson, Brady and Manning all with ugly tee shots. Manning’s was so bad that he had to take an unplayable lie and a drop. Woods split the fairway with his and tossed in a club twirl. “I have to follow that,” Brady grumbled. But then Woods found a way to fit in with the group, hitting a weak approach shot with a short iron. Brady and Manning eventually moved out of the way, leaving Phil and Tiger to grind out 5-footers for par to tie the hole.
“That was a little shaky, for me,” Mickelson said. “Now let’s go freakin’ play.”
I hope the competitive juices turn this thing into a legitimate trash talk session on the course. #TheMatch
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) May 24, 2020