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Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning knocked off Phill Mickelson, Tom Brady

Rain filled the South Florida air on Sunday, threatening to make a mess of The Match: Champions for Charity at Medalist Golf Club.

Instead, four sporting icons didn’t let bad weather dampen what turned out to be an exciting, fun-filled exhibition that raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief efforts while highlighting the ups and downs of competitive golf.

Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning triumphed 1 up over Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in Hobe Sound, Florida, but the outcome never really mattered. Mickelson trash-talked, as did announcer Charles Barkley. 

Justin Thomas, the No. 4 player in the world, dished some dirt and offered some barbs while serving as an on-course reporter. Celebrities called in and offered challenge donations. Ultimately, after $10 million was pledged by the four players and WarnerMedia previous to the match, another $10 million was raised over the course of the afternoon via online and text donations and other pledges.

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“Phil said he was nervous, so imagine us,” stated Manning, the retired two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback who is a member at Augusta National. “To go behind the ropes and get in these guys’ world and in the arena with them was really an incredible experience.

“I was not comfortable the whole time, but raising $20 million as people are going through such tough times, it’s something I’ll always remember and cherish.”

Things got off to a slow start due to the poor weather, which delayed the start by some 50 minutes.

But once the players got going, there was some excellent banter and good golf. All of the players were outfitted with custom golf carts, with cameras focused on their faces and microphones available for questions from the announcers.

Mickelson hit a few wayward shots to start, but the 44-time PGA Tour winner settled down and served as a cheerleader for Brady, trying to keep him in the game. The duo rallied on the back nine as the format shifted to modified alternate shot. Mickelson bombed a tee shot onto the short par-4 11th green, and Brady holed the eagle putt to bring them to 2 down.

“This is where it changes,” Mickelson said. He missed a good opportunity to bring the match close at the 13th but got within one hole when Manning missed a short par putt at the 14th. They could get no closer as the players proceeded in heavy rain and near darkness.

After Woods hit his tee shot in the fairway at the 18th, with Manning knocking the approach to the front of the green, all that was left was a two-putt par for the victory.

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Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning favored to defeat Phill Mickelson, Tom Brady in charity golf

The match is set, the trash-talking has started and the odds are on the board for a star-studded, 18-hole event to raise money for coronavirus relief efforts on Memorial Day weekend.

Caesars Sportsbook on Monday opened Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning as the favorites over Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in “The Match: Champions for Charity” showdown May 24 at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe South, Florida.

Woods and Manning were installed as -175 favorites, with Brady and Mickelson at +150 at Caesars.

The event will be televised on TNT and TBS at 3 p.m. ET. The four members will make a combined $10 million donation to relief efforts. The 18-hole match will consist of nine holes of best ball and nine holes of modified alternate shot.

Two years ago, Mickelson bested Woods in a head-to-head, made-for-TV event in Las Vegas.

Last week, in an online promotion for this year’s challenge, Mickelson ribbed Woods by showing off the trophy he conquered by defeating him in 2018. “Tiger doesn’t strike us as somebody who’s really going to get up for an event like this, for lack of a better phrase,” said Jeff Davis, director of risk for Caesars Sportsbook. “Phil kind of eats this stuff up.”

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The early betting action on the match had been even at the DraftKings sportsbook, where 60% of the bets were on Woods and Manning, while 55% of the money wagered was on the underdogs, Mickelson and Brady.

Jeff Sherman, a golf odds specialist at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, researched Brady’s and Manning’s golf matches online, watching old pro-am events they played in and videos of their swings.

“From what I could find, I believe Brady’s like an 8 handicap, and Manning’s like a 6 handicap,” Sherman said. “So, slight edge to Manning there.”

Sherman compared the handle on the 2018 event between Mickelson and Woods to how much is wagered on a “good NBA game,” but said he expects this year’s version of “The Match” to attract potentially four times as much betting interest.

“For a standout event like that, it was less than I anticipated,” Sherman stated “I think one has the potential to do three or four times that, just based on this being by itself on a Sunday, when people can get involved. “There’s definitely going to be more involvement on this one, because it’s not up on many things.”

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Fate of Wimbledon to be decided next week

Organisers of the Wimbledon tennis tournament will decide next week if the event will need to be postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The London-based event is one of the four major ‘Grand Slams’ in the sport and is regarded by many as the most prestigious. It is due to run June 29-July 12 this year.

All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which runs Wimbledon, posted an update on its website informing that because preparations for the event begin next month, it needs to make a decision shortly on whether to press on with its 2020 edition.

The org said both postponement and cancellation were on the table.

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An emergency meeting of its board is scheduled for next week, and the club explained that it is working with global tennis bodies and other Grand Slams to game plan its next moves.

It added that, “the nature of our surface suggests that postponement is not without significant risk and difficulty”, denoting that a cancellation could be likely. The org also ruled out playing behind closed doors.

“The unprecedented challenge presented by the COVID-19 crisis continues to affect our way of life in ways that we could not have imagined, and our thoughts are with all those affected in the UK and around the world,” stated the club’s chief exec Richard Lewis.

“The single most important consideration is one of public health, and we are determined to act responsibly through the decisions we make. We are working hard to bring certainty to our plans for 2020 and have convened an emergency meeting of the AELTC Main Board for next week, at which a decision will be made.”

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slams, has already postponed its dates from May to September. The other two, the US Open and Australian Open, run in September (before the French’s proposed new dates) and January accordingly.

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