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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