Turner Sports appears set to revisit the concept of their 2018 The Match golf duel between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, but with some twists. The newest entry will reportedly feature Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as well in a 2v2 format, and it’s set to be televised on TNT rather than on pay-per-view. Darren Rovell of The Action Network has more details on this:
A Turner Sports spokesperson confirmed to The Action Network the match will be aired live on TNT with surrounding content on Bleacher Report. The exact date is unclear, but rumored dates are May 15 and May 24. All proceeds from the event will go to COVID-19 relief.
The matchup is believed to be Tiger and Peyton, who are both Nike spokesmen, against Phil and Brady. It will be called “The Match: Champions for Charity,” according to sources.
A PGA TOUR official told The Action Network’s Jason Sobel that Tiger and Phil would need to receive a “release form for them to play a televised or streamed event in the U.S.”
A TOUR official told Sobel, “We are still in discussions on a number of items, including ensuring the health and safety for all involved with the event.”
The Turner-owned outlet Bleacher Report then added more to this with an unbylined piece:
Golf icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will return for the second edition of The Match, joined by two of the NFL’s greatest players of all time in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady for a two-on-two live golf competition called The Match: Champions for Charity, with all donations and fundraising to benefit COVID-19 relief.
Turner Sports has confirmed that the event will air live on TNT, planned for next month, with details on the specific date, venue and charitable causes to be announced in the coming weeks. Tournament organizers are currently working with state and local government and public health officials on competition and production logistics to ensure the event follows safety and health protocols.
But there are some obvious health concerns to consider with any sports event at the moment, and even holding this without spectators wouldn’t alleviate all of those. Televising it means you still need a lot of people involved, and some of the normal production setups (particularly production trucks) involve a lot of people in close quarters. You also need a jurisdiction willing to hold this, as state and local officials in California and Nevada (amongst other states) have pushed back on planned events like UFC fights.
The Action Network piece suggests that Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida is a likely destination, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis has publicly expressed support for the idea (he also has let WWE keep shooting live shows weekly, declaring their workers “essential“). So that would eliminate some of the possible governmental roadblocks. But an anonymous WWE employee’s complaint to the Orange County (FL) Board of Supervisors this week suggests there are some major issues with continuing to try to film live-on-location content in a pandemic:
“My employer, World Wrestling Entertainment, aka WWE, is forcing me to work the TV tapings for its weekly shows despite home orders for coronavirus. I am unable to speak out as I need this job and I know I will be fired if I approach my higher-ups.
“Despite sanitary precautions, we cannot maintain social distancing and have to touch other people. I request the government to shut down these tapings and enforce the stay-at-home order so my colleagues and I may follow social distancing rules without fear or repercussions of losing our jobs.”
And that speaks to a further challenge with doing this event at this moment. In order to make this really work, you have to not just get the participants on side, but also the golf course and PGA Tour officials and everyone involved on the broadcast side. But if they can make this work, the concept could certainly draw a lot of viewership. Many people are desperate for live sports at the moment, so even some who might not normally care about golf could tune in (and there’s a lower hurdle with this being on cable rather than pay-per-view this time), and working Manning and Brady (who there’s even more interest in than normal following his move to Tampa) in might further help draw a giant audience. So there’s some obvious logic to trying to do this, especially considering that future editions of The Match were discussed even before all of these recent factors. We’ll see how this pans out.