10 observations from Capital One's The Match: Champions for Charity
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Written by Staff @PGATOUR
Mic’d up: Phil Mickelson at Capital One's The Match
A few observations – some serious, some a little more lighthearted, much like the action Sunday at Medalist – from Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity.
TIGER IN GREAT FORM. Yes, it’s his home course (he even has his own Tiger Tees at Medalist to create a 7,571 layout), so the local knowledge was a benefit. But wow, did Tiger look good, especially off the tee early, striping fairways to set up crisp approach shots. Most of us haven’t seen him swing a club since mid-February at The Genesis Invitational, but he looked in mid-season form. His competitive nature was also dialed in and it was no surprise to see him close out the match with a lag from distance that did everything but go in.
AS FOR HIS SCHEDULE. Tiger was in the middle of answering a question from Charles Barkley about the adjusted PGA TOUR schedule – “Going to be interesting to see what happens,” he said – when Manning called him in to read a putt. So we’re still waiting to see when Tiger will make his next TOUR start.
AS FOR MICKELSON. He wasn’t as sharp and admitted in midway through the front nine. “Not swinging that well,” he said after another errant shot. “Gotta get that fixed.” He did bust out one of his “bombs” from the tee early on the back nine, driving the par-4 11th green, but his short game, as usual, bailed him out for the most part.
BRADY’S HOLE-OUT. Golf can make anybody seem human … even a G.O.A.T. from another sport. No doubt Tom Brady was frustrated with his first six and a half holes and received plenty of grief from others (including Jimmy Fallon) engaging in some good-natured jokes. Brooks Koepka offered to donate $100,000 if Brady could make a par on the front nine. But like the greats always seem to do, he produced the best shot of the day. After being called out by Charles Barkley – and if you’ve seen Barkley swing a golf club, you understand that’s a significant jab -- Brady responded by holing out for birdie from outside 100 yards at the par-4 seventh. The birdie won the bet from Koepka, who then doubled down for another $100,000 for par on either of the next two holes (didn’t happen). “That was some shot,” Koepka later told Brady via phone.
“DELAYED SAUCE.” Just another in the growing list of Phil Mickelson idioms that also includes “activate the calves” and “hitting bombs.” After driving the par-4 11th, Mickelson described it as “high, nasty, straight bombs.”
BEST TIGER-PHIL MOMENT. Plenty of good back-and-forth moments, but the best was when Mickelson was hitting his third shot from the fairway at the par-4 fifth while Tiger was already on the green. Mickelson asked Tiger to mark his ball. Tiger’s response: “You want me to use one of my U.S. Open medals?” Tiger opted not to mark and told Mickelson he’d give him the hole if Mickelson hit his ball. Phil nearly did, his shot bouncing just inches away. “Would’ve been a tasty one,” Mickelson smiled.
MANNING AS GOLF ANNOUNCER? Networks televising NFL games have been trying to pull Peyton Manning into the broadcast booth ever since he retired following the 2015 season. But perhaps Manning’s true calling is as a golf announcer. After Mickelson missed a green with his approach shot, Manning astutely observed, “Pretty much a routine par for Phil. Might as well be in the leather.” What Manning may lack in long-time inside-the-ropes knowledge, he’d make up with his storytelling ability. And there would never be any dead air.
JT AS ANNOUNCER. Just as Brady and Manning stepped out of their comfort zones by playing golf, Justin Thomas stepped out of his by grabbing a microphone and becoming an on-course analyst. Good insight from JT, who like Woods is a Medalist member. How can we convince him to spend his weeks off critiquing his peers?
THAT MAGICAL NOLA CAP. Manning switched caps after a shaky start, putting on a cap honoring his hometown of New Orleans. He immediately started to play better, making a long putt to win the fourth hole and also won the sixth with a par for a net 3 with the handicap. He eventually switched to a Colorado cap. It wasn’t the only wardrobe change on the day. Brady went to his rain pants before a second squall hit the course after he split his golf slacks in the midst of his early struggles.
BELICHICK THE CADDIE. Manning was asked whom he would use as his caddie if he didn’t have a cart. He suggested his brother Eli, then perhaps Nick Foles (the ultimate NFL QB caddie?), but finally settled on Bill Belichick, Brady’s former coach at New England to “see how that would’ve worked.” Brady was within earshot, of course. But then, as Manning remembered, “Bill brings out bad things for me.”