Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson might just be one of the most high-profile golf foursomes in history. Let’s do the math: Woods and Mickelson combined for 20 major championships and 126 PGA Tour victories. Brady and Manning have eight Super Bowl wins and eight Most Valuable Player awards. So, yeah, that’s some star power.
On Sunday at 3 p.m. ET (TNT/TBS) at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, the four will join up for a team-event with the proceeds benefiting coronavirus relief. It’s Woods and Manning vs. Mickelson and Brady. So what do you need to know? We have everything covered, from how and where it will be played, to predictions about which team will win, to who has the trash-talking advantage.
Here’s what to look for with each of the four players:
Now, remember, before the coronavirus forced the entire sports world into a long break, Woods was already in the midst of a long break. After a poor showing at the Genesis Open in mid-February — he finished last among those who made the cut after posting 76-77 on the weekend — he skipped a string of events that seemed like obvious tuneups for the Masters. He sat out the WGC-Mexico, Arnold Palmer and the Players Championship. (The Players got in just one round before the coronavirus caused the shutdown.) He cited continued back stiffness for missing the Players. He recently said had the Masters gone on as scheduled in April, he would have been ready to defend his green jacket. But seeing Woods back in action will be interesting, not just in terms of his golf game, but in how he moves.
Manning calls two pretty well-known clubs home — Augusta National and Cherry Hills in Denver. Former teammate Brandon Stokley gave a full review earlier this week of his many, many outings with Manning. While this will be a different environment, and the former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback will likely have Mickelson in his ear heckling him, Manning has been alongside Woods before in pro-ams, most notably at the Memorial, Jack Nicklaus’ tournament in Ohio.
While Woods was absent for much of the early portion of the tour schedule, Mickelson was there, though his game often wasn’t. He missed the cut in four of five events before the shutdown. He was over par and gone for the weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open, the Genesis Invitational and Arnold Palmer Invitational. In the one round at the Players before the event was called off, he shot 3-over 75. His one good outing during that run was at Pebble Beach, where he finished third at a place that has always brought out the best in him. So it’ll be interesting to see, as Mickelson creeps closer to his 50th birthday next month, where his game is at these days.
It will also be interesting to see how much golf Brady has played leading into this event; after all, the former New England Patriots quarterback has been a little busy the past few months finding a new team and home in Tampa Bay, Florida. But that didn’t stop him from finding a place to play; he is reportedly set to join Seminole Golf Club, one of the country’s best courses and the host to last weekend’s charity match among Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff. According to former teammate Wes Welker, when Brady is practicing and playing, he can go low. When he’s not, well, “he sucks,” Welker said.
Which team wins?
Matt Barrie, ESPN
Why: Tawmy is to Peyton in football what Tiger is to Phil in golf. One owns the other in championships. And because this isn’t a football game, the ownership of this match will reside where it has throughout their golf careers — with Woods. If they really wanted to let it fly with the open mics, the trash-talking would also go to Woods and Manning. Beside, Manning has been retired and has plenty of time to swing the clubs.
David Bearman, ESPN Chalk
Why: As much as I would love to play the “revenge” card like Michael Jordan did in every episode of “The Last Dance,” Woods just doesn’t get up for things like this. If it were a major and Woods was slighted or lost before, sure. But as we saw last year in Tiger/Phil Part I, Mickelson cares a whole lot more in events like this. Add the Brady-dominating-Manning dynamic and I like the underdog here.
Michael Collins, ESPN.com
Why: Because on the back nine when they play the modified alternate shot, Mickelson will shine. And for these types of events, Mickelson cares more about winning than Woods does.
Michael Eaves, ESPN
Why: Because 17 is greater than 11. (Do the math.)
Chris Fallica, ESPN
Why: There’s no way I can lay $2 with the favorites here. With big money on the line — for charity — in a match-play event, whom better to back than Mickelson and Brady, guys who live for the big stage? And if it comes down to trash talk, I’ll take my chances with Mickelson and Brady getting under their opponents’ skin on the back nine when it matters most.
Charlotte Gibson, ESPN.com
Why: If this was a match to decide who had the best calves in the game, I’d be all-in on the Mickelson/Brady duo. But this is a golf match. I’m all-in on Woods, who has 15 majors compared to Lefty’s five, and Manning, who plays a 6.4 handicap while Brady dabbles in the 8.1 zone.
Mike Golic Jr., ESPN
Why: Reminder: Brady has never won without Bill Belichick. I don’t think he starts now. Peyton shows Tom how to successfully transition to his second act. Tiger gets his revenge and ensures the rubber match.
Mike Golic Sr., ESPN
Why: Now that the first match is out of the way, there’s no way Woods goes down 0-2 to Mickelson.
Dan Graziano, ESPN.com
Why: I have no idea where either of the golfers is mentally or athletically, but I do know Brady is loose, happy, bopping around Florida in and out of random houses, generally feeling like life is a breath of fresh air. The spring/summer of Tom continues.
Mike Greenberg, ESPN
Why: If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that no one gets rich betting against Tom Brady. Regardless of the sport. Give me the upset.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com
Why: Let’s be honest, Brady was practicing football earlier this week in Tampa, meeting with his new teammates several times at a local park. He’s clearly not taking this golf event seriously. And since Woods knows the Medalist course better than anyone, that gives his team the added boost.
Anita Marks, ESPN
Why: Let me count the ways … 1. Home-field advantage for Woods, with Medalist being his home course. 2. Woods is more accurate off the tee, which is crucial at Medalist.
Andy North, ESPN
Why: It comes down to who plays better between Brady and Manning. I’m going with Manning; I hope he’s been practicing. We are both members at Cherry Hills, so I know he can play a tough course.
Ian O’Connor, ESPN.com
Why: People forget that Manning beat Brady in their last three AFC Championship Game duels. So there’s that, along with the fact that Woods would rather hold daily news conferences, on truth serum, than lose two straight TV money matches to Mickelson.
Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN.com
Why: This one is pretty simple: Woods hates listening to Mickelson talk trash. He will not want to lose again and have to hear about it over and over and over.
Mike Reiss, ESPN.com
Why: One of the first rules in the Tom Brady beat writer’s notebook is “bet against Brady at your own risk.” Plus, how could I go against someone who puts $2,000 on the line for each hole he plays with pals like Wes Welker? I’m sticking with the high roller.
Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com
Why: Just like football. Manning and Brady played each other 17 times in the NFL, with Brady’s teams leading the series 11-6. Brady guided the Patriots to a record nine Super Bowls and won six times. Manning led his teams to four Super Bowls and won twice.
Marty Smith, ESPN
Why: Woods’ legendary competitive drive will offset Brady’s. Manning’s sense of humor will defuse Mickelson’s whip-quick wit. That means it comes down to … beer. Brady is a legendary beer-chugger, and on the superhighway to the cold beer, golf is a Lamborghini. Let’s go!
Tom VanHaaren, ESPN.com
Why: After watching “The Last Dance” and seeing how Jordan was fueled by disrespect and losses, Woods and Manning combine to avenge Woods’ loss to Mickelson in the previous match and Manning’s career record against Brady. They win and both give a Jordan-esque shoulder shrug after they walk off the course in victory.
Listen, Phil Mickelson lives for this part. He cannot help himself, whether it’s on social media or in any interview possible — he loves to needle anybody, everybody. He’s not been shy about reminding Woods about what happened in the first match, when Mickelson won the $9 million payday. And let’s keep in mind this story, involving country music star Jake Owen, which Owen told Barstool Sports last year. Apparently, Owen wasn’t happy about the level of golf he got from Mickelson and Woods the first time around, when it was on pay-per-view: “So I walked over to him,” Owen said on the podcast. “I was like, ‘Hey Phil, you owe me f—ing $29.99!’ I was like, ‘For wasting four hours of my life with the s—tiest golf I’ve ever seen! You guys hype this whole thing up about the big match? You guys couldn’t even make three birdies between the two of you? I want my $29.99 and apologize to me for some s— golf!'” Mickelson responded: “I won 90,000 of these things yesterday. Take a 100 and go f— yourself!”
Mickelson has been in true Phil form leading into this one, too.
And he’s tried to get his partner in on the act, too.
Woods has never been shy with one-liners. During a Zoom call to promote this match, Woods draped himself in his green jacket, reminding Mickelson and Brady who is the current Masters champion (and the fact that he’s won five of them).
And then there’s Manning. Now, keep in mind, the guy hosted “Saturday Night Live,” so he’s not afraid to throw a few barbs.
During an announcement for “The Match: Champions for Charity,” Peyton Manning trolls Tom Brady about his breaking and entering incident and his departure from New England.
Woods and Mickelson are elite professionals; Brady and Manning are not. Brady and Manning are single-digit handicaps, meaning mid-70s to low-80s is what to expect if they were counting every shot. The front nine will be best-ball format, so the best score from each team is counted. The back nine is where things get interesting. They will play modified alternate shot. What’s that? All four players will hit their drives, then each team will pick which tee shot they like better. From there, they will alternate who hits until the hole is finished.
The venue: Medalist
Like last weekend’s match among McIlroy, Johnson, Fowler and Wolff at ultra-exclusive Seminole, this is the first real look at ultra-exclusive Medalist since a one-off event was televised in the mid 1990s. And like it was seeing Seminole on television, this is about as close as most of the world will get to Medalist, too. This is a home game for Woods; he’s a member at the place. He gave us a small peek in 2017 as he was taking baby steps toward a comeback. This tweet was meant to show him actually swinging a club, which was a big deal on its own three years ago. But now, it’s more of that rare glimpse at Medalist.
Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, who will be making his broadcast debut as an on-course commentator for this one, are all members, too. So if you were to get past the front gate yourself, you’d likely bump into an elite PGA Tour player, past or present, somewhere on the property.
Justin Thomas tells Scott Van Pelt that he plans to talk as much trash as possible to both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at their charity golf event, where Thomas will be working as a broadcaster.
Greg Norman founded the club and worked with legendary course architect Pete Dye on the design.
Woods and Manning enter as the favorites, going in at -175. Here are some of the prop bets available at DraftKings.
Mickelson/Brady win hole No. 1 (+335)
Mickelson birdies No. 1 (+500)
Mickelson longest drive on No. 3 (+105)
Brady longest drive on No. 3 (+105)
Woods closest to the hole on Nos. 4 and 8 (+125)
Woods and Manning holes 10-18 winners (-110)
Mickelson/Brady most par-3s won (+120)
Mickelson/Brady most par-5s won (+120)