We’re getting close to The Match: Champions for Charity, the May 24 golf challenge that will see Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning taking on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, and Turner has now announced their lineups for both the main broadcast (on TNT, simulcast across TBS, truTV and HLN) and the pre-show (on the Bleacher Report app). The commentator team for the main broadcast can be seen in the graphic above, with Brian Anderson as host, Trevor Immelman and Charles Barkley as analysts, and Amanda Balionis and Justin Thomas as on-course reporters.
Here’s the lineup for the pre-show:
The inclusion of Barkley as a main-broadcast analyst is certainly interesting, as his golf background can be summarized as “He’s turrible at it.” Anderson and Immelman have both worked on Turner’s PGA Championship coverage in the past, though, as has Balionis, so that all makes sense. And Thomas (the PGA Tour money leader in both 2017 and 2018, and the 2017 PGA Championship winner) can provide a current player’s perspective. (And hopefully on-course interviews will go smoother here than the time Balionis tried to interview Thomas and was disrupted by swooping birds.)
This is rather a different setup than the previous edition of The Match in November 2018, which featured Barkley on the preview show (alongside Lefkoe, Pat Perez and Samuel L. Jackson), but had Ernie Johnson doing the main broadcast play-by-play, with Darren Clarke and Peter Jacobsen as analysts and Shane Bacon and Natalie Gulbis as reporters. Adding Barkley in particular suggests this will be less focused on actual golf analysts, which maybe makes sense here giving the involvement of Manning and Brady. But it’s still going to be interesting to see Barkley as a main broadcast golf analyst.
As for the pre-show, Lefkoe worked on the previous edition of The Match and has spoken about how much he’s enjoyed that, and it’s interesting to see Stewart and Richards involved as well. Stewart is a professional handicapper who’s been featured on Showtime’s Action and who currently hosts a Bleacher Report betting show alongside Richards (who had a long career with The Score and TSN in Canada and has been hosting shows for Bleacher Report recently), so expect lots of gambling talk there.
Overall, it’s clear there’s strong advertiser demand for this event, with Variety‘s Brian Steinberg reporting around the announcement that TNT ad slots were already sold out, and that Turner Sports EVP Jon Diament said “we had demand for double the amount of inventory that we had.” We’ll see how that translates into viewers on May 24, and we’ll see how audiences react to Barkley as a full-on golf commentator.