HOBE SOUND, FLORIDA:: Tiger Woods and former NFL player Peyton Manning celebrate defeating Phil Mickelson and NFL player Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the 18th green during The Match: Champions For Charity at Medalist Golf Club on May 24, 2020 in Hobe Sound, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images for The Match)
It was just four players on the course, four icons from two different sports, and the fairways were not lined with crowds, as you would have expected in normal times. But these, in case no one told you, are not normal times.
At a time when live golf has been unavailable, Turner Network (TNT) said the “Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity”was watched by 5.8 million viewers. That made it the most watched golf event in cable TV History. It reached a peak viewership of 6.3 million at one point.
In the much-awaited golf for charity event, “Capital One’s The Match” featured Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.
Woods and Manning, 3-up after nine holes, held of a fightback from their rivals to win one-up and the event raised as much as $ 20 million for Covid Charities as the players played in rain.
Yet, the audience was global. The cause most appropriate and there was something happening all the time – near-perfect golf from Tiger Woods, explanations galore (you could even call it ‘lessons on course’) from Phil Mickelson, botched drives from Tom Brady, amazing putting by Peyton Manning. It also had humour laced commentary from basketball legend Charles Barkley, terrific insights from former Masters winner, Trevor Immelman, and PGA Championship winner, Justin Thomas was the on-course reporter.
And above all a meter that kept indicating the money assured for charities. In between there were challenges for players and some extra ones, thrown in former World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, who promised $ 100,000 if Brady made a par after terrible series of holes, where the drives wen everywhere except the fairways.
And then on the seventh, Brady took a penalty drop before getting to the fairway, from where he holed out for a birdie and Koepka’s charity added a $ 100k to the kitty. Before that Barkley twice offered $ 50,000 of his own money, if Brady landed on the green on a Par-3. Brady missed it so far, that he never had a chance to earn that offer for the kitty.
When Brady did hole out from the fairway for a birdie on Par-5 seventh, Woods still almost beat him as his 25-foot eagle putt horse-shoed out. Two amazing shots and a hole was halved, but a lot of money was added for charity and it added to a lot of cheer.
Woods playing on his home golf course, and Manning, built a big advantage over the first six holes before the fightback began as Brady ‘holed’ out from fairway and then on back the Mickelson-Brady combine reduced the margin to 1-up.
A total of US$20 million was raised for COVID-19 relief efforts.
“The fact that we all came together and were able to raise this money for those who have been severely impacted (is great),” Woods said. “Tom and Peyton, hats off to them for coming out. This is our arena, and this is what we do. We couldn’t imagine going on the football field and doing what they do.”
“It was an honor for Tom and I to be invited to play in this match and it will always be something I remember and cherish,” Manning said.
Woods and Manning were 3-up after a strong front nine that began with a birdie from Woods at the par-5 third. The advantage doubled at the ensuing par-3 when Manning poured in a birdie, which was set up by an impressive tee shot from Woods that landed inside nine feet. The duo earned one final win at the sixth when Manning two-putted from the fringe.
But Mickelson and Brady’s fortunes began to turn around after moving to the back nine, when the format shifted from four-ball (best-ball) to modified alternate shot. The pair won their first hole when Mickelson drove the green at the 342-yard 11th and Brady connected a long-range putt for eagle, then added another at the 14th when Manning’s 2-foot par putt lipped out.
“My man hit some really great shots on the back nine,” Mickelson said of Brady, who had the shot of the day with a hole out from the fairway at No. 7. “We fought hard to make up the (deficit) on the front. I was a little nervous, really tight. But he really shined and hit some great shots and we made a run, came really close.”