The viability of The Match as an ongoing, made-for-TV golf property seemed in doubt after technical and format issues with the first iteration in 2018.
But this spring, as the pandemic kept most sports shut down, a charity-driven version which added Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to the mix was a huge hit, becoming the highest-rated golf broadcast in cable history. Watching star athletes play a different sport and interact with each other, some of golf’s greats, and Charles Barkley on commentary made for a very entertaining watch. It may have been worth watching just for the sight of Tom Brady completely falling apart for most of the round only to redeem himself with a hole-out birdie during which he split his pants.
And then Tom Brady does that.
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) May 24, 2020
After the success of that version, Phil Mickelson suggested that he’d be very open to doing more of them going forward. Now, according to a report from Sportico’s Anthony Crupi and Scott Soshnick, Phil is getting his wish, as The Match 3 is in the works for November. One of the big questions for any of these is whether Tiger Woods will be involved, and if not, whether there will be a lot of appeal to casual sports fans.
According to Sportico, Tiger won’t be playing (not a surprise given his health and the condensed golf calendar), but they’ve added maybe the most entertaining bad golfer possible in Charles Barkley.
Teeing off on Friday, Nov. 27 are three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson and trash-talking pro-am habitué/Nationwide spokesman Peyton Manning, both of whom played in last spring’s round.
Joining the two Match veterans are thrice-crowned NBA champ and scratch golfer Steph Curry and … Charles Barkley. If nothing else, the inclusion of Turner’s irrepressible studio analyst should make for a diverting couple hours of TV, even if the actual match play may leave something to be desired. The mechanics of Sir Charles’ stroke are as ungainly as a mis-buttoned shirt; on the downswing, the club head drops toward the ball with all the fluidity of one those giant mallets used in carnival strongman games.
Details about The Match 3: Champions for Change were confirmed by sources involved in the logistics of scheduling the event. Turner Sports declined to comment on the matter.
If they keep to the team format, presumably Barkley will be paired with Mickelson against Steph and Peyton, who are really good and pretty good players, respectively. TWhile COVID-19 relief was the charitable goal for the spring version, this one will apparently have some different aims, including benefitting HBCUs.
Aside from ensuring that at least one of the new guys will shine in the best-ball format on the front nine, Curry’s philanthropic leanings are in sync with Turner’s own altruistic philosophy; per sources who’ve been involved with mapping out November’s event, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are expected to be the beneficiaries of this particular charitable endeavor.
As it happens, Curry has shown considerable interest in one of the nation’s most preeminent HBCUs. About a year ago, the hoops legend announced that he would fund Howard University’s long-dormant golf program through the 2025-26 academic season.
So, while details are still being determined, it’s looking very likely that Black Friday will once again feature made-for-TV golf, with some big names raising money for charity in what could be a very fun afternoon. Hard to find a downside there.