TAKEAWAYS FROM THE MATCH II

For sports fans, 'The Match II' was a sight for sore eyes

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images for The Match.

I'm not the biggest golf fan. I'll watch the majors. I'll watch Tiger Woods play if he is in contention at a tournament but for the most part, there are plenty of other sports I would watch before I would sit down and watch golf for five hours. We are all struggling to find compelling live programming due to COVID-19, especially compelling live sports programming. The biggest storyline in sports the last 5 weeks has been watching The Last Dance on ESPN featuring Michael Jordan and 1997-1998 Bulls. As fun as that was, reacting to a story that ended 23 years ago is not what the typical sports fan was hoping to watch during the prime sports months of the spring.

However, everything changed on Sunday with The Match II: Champions for Charity. A fantastic event that Turner and Capital One put together at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida to raise money to combat the ongoing virus. Instead of Tiger and Phil playing against each other as they did in 2018's first installment of The Match, they would go against each other with a legendary QB playing with each of them. The storylines were there for The Match. Tiger Woods playing with Peyton Manning and Phil Mickelson playing with Tom Brady. Superstar athletes that all sports fans respect regardless of sport.

The most recent charity golf outing, The TaylorMade Driving Relief skins game, featuring Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Matt Wolff didn't keep my attention. If you are a hard core golf fan, I'm sure that you loved watching those guys play but to the casual sports fan, the game of golf needs Tiger Woods or Phil Micklelson playing to get a big rating. While there was undoubtedly star power when you have Dustin Johnson and Rory Mcllroy playing, The Match featuring four sports legends felt like a way bigger event of a higher magnitude.

The expectation coming in was that we as fans watching at home would get to hear the players mic'd up, talking trash, and having fun. However, until you actually see a plan like that executed it felt as if many people were skeptical especially after the first Match was negatively impacted due to technical issues. TNT took a chance and made the broadcast so enjoyable. The booth of Brian Anderson, Trevor Immelman and Charles Barkley, with Amanda Balionis and Justin Thomas as on-course reporters had a great balance of golf analysis and plenty of laugh out loud moments. Brian Anderson is as smooth as any top-notch broadcaster out there and anything Charles Barkley says can go viral at any given moment. Justin Thomas has a future in broadcasting whenever he decides to stop dominating the PGA Tour. Despite horrendous weather throughout, TNT did a remarkable job keeping the broadcast on the air.

Charles Barkley's mouth even helped create the moment of the entire match. As Brady struggled mightily on the front nine, getting roasted on social media by everyone for finally not being great at something, Barkley told Brady he wanted to challenge him sometime on the course. Things changed on the 7th fairway for Brady as he found himself standing over an approach shot. With Barkley's challenge in mind, he flew a wedge just a few yards past the pin, spinning it back into the cup for a birdie. It was one of the most impressive shots any golfer can have let alone an amateur playing with two of the all-time greats with millions of sports deprived fans watching. Brady telling Barkley to, "Shut your mouth, Chuck. Take a little of that medicine" was laugh out loud funny

Both the amateurs held up well with the pros. Give Tom Brady credit for getting things together after a rough start that even featured the 6x Super Bowl winner splitting his pants as he and Mickelson really challenged Woods and Manning late and nearly pulled off a big comeback after trailing 3-0. It felt like Brady was struggling worse than Johnny Drama was when he used Brady's clubs during a season 6 episode of Entourage. Manning's tongue in cheek dry humor made him highly entertaining the entire afternoon. From ribbing Brady about Bill Belichick, Eli Manning and Nick Foles, to laughing at his own expense, it is easy to see why Peyton remains one of the most likable athletes ever.

The pros held up their end of the bargain. Tiger Woods didn't miss a fairway. His swing looked sharp and he moved around well. It's unclear when we will see the 15x major winner play next but when we do we are all going to watch. Phil Mickelson was steady throughout and kept him and Brady in the match after Woods and Manning grabbed the lead early. Mickelson provided all of us at home with a bunch of free golf lessons. It was fascinating to see him try to teach Tom Brady where to putt the ball on the greens.

The collection of epic moments, awesome golf shots, and finally a live and competitive sports competition helped The Match become a major success. TNT says it was the most watched golf event in cable TV history. From 5:45 PM - 6 PM Eastern, the broadcast peaked with 6.3 million viewers.

Sports fans are starved for content and it certainly helps when the content was as interesting as The Match II lived up to be. How about the next time they play, we get Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan against Phil Mickelson and LeBron James for The Match III? You know that Michael will be ready to gamble. I can't wait to see the hot takes about that foursome...

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome