'The Match II' report card: Tiger's putter kept him from an A; Brady reboundedby Tim Schmitt
As well-intentioned as the TaylorMade Driving Relief event was last weekend, it left much to be desired in terms of entertainment. For a sports-starved nation hoping to catch a little trash talk and a tiny bit of relief from the monotony of quarantine life, much of the event left average sports fans —and even many golf purists — only mildly interested.
But this was different. Sunday’s “The Match: Champions for Charity” had a little bit of everything. Uncertainty over whether the rains would allow the match to start. Instant and incessant banter. Horrible golf shots. Amazing golf shots.
And in the end, it produced some genuine drama. After digging a big hole, the duo of Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady staged an impressive comeback to make the 18th hole relevant.
Here are the grades:
Medalist Golf Club: Incomplete
Last week’s perfect conditions and sweeping images gave us a glimpse of Seminole Golf Club that many will never be afforded, but Sunday’s “The Match II” was like watching a Packers game from Lambeau in December — it helped to set an amazing scene, but you couldn’t make out much of the surroundings.
The course played fairly and it’s certainly a treasure, we just couldn’t see many of the highlights amid the downpour.
We’ll give it an incomplete and hope we can get a better understanding of the subject matter next semester (whenever that is).
Tiger Woods: B+
We’re weighting Tiger’s grade a little because this is his home course. He looked strong — a great sign for golf fans — and put himself in great position most of the afternoon. In fact, while the others were fighting to find fairways through a heavy rain on the front nine, Tiger routinely placed his ball exactly where a knowledgeable club member would.
He did miss a few shots we might expect him to hit (although not many) and the one thing that jumped out was Tiger’s poor speeds on the greens. Sure, they were wet. But Tiger plays these greens all the time; you’d think he’d know which putts needed a few extra rolls considering the soggy conditions.
Phil Mickelson: A-
While we’re weighting Tiger’s grade a bit because it’s his home track and we expected better putting, we’d be lying if we said Phil’s grade wasn’t slightly influenced by his amazing dialogue. Phil talked. And talked. And talked. As only Phil can. But of course, without the mics, we rarely get to know exactly what he keeps rambling about.
And Phil was, well, Phil, as he sprayed the ball a bit, but then made some memories. His tee shot on No. 11, for example, made it look like he was the member, and was the kind of shot you brag about for weeks to come. On 14 he added a stiff shot and then he buried a huge 12-foot par putt on No. 15 to keep his squad in the match.
Tom Brady: C+
He really is the master of second-half comebacks, isn’t he? Tom Brady was awful through the first six holes. To the point where buddies across the country were texting each other and suggesting there was something they can finally do better than the GOAT.
Brady was coming off everything early, and spraying shots left and right.
But on No. 7, you could just sense that he had been picked on enough. He caught his iron so clean off the fairway, it pulled his microphone off and ripped his pants. The holed-out birdie was one of many highlights in the round, not to mention the one that made it feel like it might become a match.
And while we thought Brady might be able to recover from his early failing grade to manage a B, he had a few big fails down the stretch — including a missed putt on No. 17 and then essentially becoming a non-factor on 18.
Still, finishing with this grade after where we stood six holes in was pretty impressive.
Peyton Manning: B
Everything you need to know about Manning’s competitive fire shined through on the 212-yard 16th hole. The team of Phil and Tom was clearly gaining momentum, and Brady stuck a beauty to eight feet. At this point, Manning was starting to show signs of collapse after messing up a bunker shot on No. 13 and missing an easy par putt on No. 14.
But that’s when Peyton came back with one of the best shots of the day, a perfectly placed bullet that dropped inside two feet from the cup.
It was part of a recurring theme — Manning’s iron shots coming out crisp. Although he insisted after the match that he was a lot more nervous than Mickelson, he certainly didn’t play that way.
Last week, we insisted the best thing broadcast executives could do was to keep the players’ mics open and tell their announcers and guests to stay out of the way. We’d like to stick an addendum on that — unless you have Charles Barkley in the booth.
Barkley came through as large, no pun intended, as the legendary athletes he was chatting with and Brady’s calling out Barkley after holing out on No. 7 was one of the day’s best moments. We’d give Turner Sports a straight A, although side chats with A-Rod and Russell Wilson did little but distract us from the amazing on-course chatter.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Justin Thomas’ debut. Remember how everyone was sure that Tony Romo would be perfect in a TV booth and then he actually was? The sentiment is the same for JT, who was smooth, funny and another bright spot.
It was sloppy, especially through the first eight or so holes, although that’s probably to be expected with conditions that weren’t exactly ideal. Most important, it seemed to matter. Both teams were awfully chatty through the front nine, but the only discussion through the last few holes was Mickelson’s attempt to coach Brady to the finish line.
The real winner was us. In an uncertain time, one that’s ripped families apart and turned daily life upside-down, this was an afternoon of competition, good-natured ribbing and a few genuine golf memories. It felt … normal.
And many of us had forgotten what that feels like.