25 May 2020 | Professional golf |

Tiger, Peyton win as golf’s slow return continues

by Martin Blake

Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods raised $US 20 million for Covid-19 relief. Photo: Getty Images
Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods raised $US 20 million for Covid-19 relief. Photo: Getty Images

Slowly, steadily, big golf is coming back.

Last week it was Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and others at Seminole. Today it was Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and arguably the greatest of all NFL quarterbacks – Peyton Manning and Tom Brady – at Medallist in Florida.

Woods partnered Manning and that pair won The Match one-up having dominated early before a Brady hole-out with a wedge ignited it. The whole thing went down with a whimper, Woods having two putts from long range at the last for the win, which was conceded after his first putt stopped a few centimetres from the hole.

“I would have liked to have seen Peyton hole that,’’ said Mickelson, as the banter that had been running all day continued.

They raised $US 20 million for the COVID 19 Relief Fund and gave everyone a little taste of what they’ve been missing, through the agency of CNN’s live coverage. In truth it was a brilliant concept, drawing together the winners of 20 major championships and eight Super Bowl trophies.

Woods and Mickelson, who played a head-to-head match in 2018, are on to something quite good.

Four-time Super Bowl champion Brady’s 9-metre hole-out at the 11th was the clear highlight, coming after he had struggled to find the centre of the club and found himself the butt of not only social media jibes but some strong commentary from Charles Barkley, the former NBA player who has by some margin the worst swing in golf.

Barkley at one point said he would donate $US50,000 if Brady could find a green, which of course, he did not. “You know, Tom,’’ he said. “I should’ve just said if you can keep it on the planet.”

So when Brady holed out at 11, he did not hesitate to respond. “Shut your mouth, Chuck.”

The Match had its signature moment.

But single-figure marker Brady was less than great in the modified foursomes format. Four-handicapper Manning snap-hooked his opening tee shot into the land of buried elephants and admitted to nerves afterward, although he was certainly better than Brady. “To go behind the ropes in these guys’ world, to be in the arena with them is really a special experience,’’ said Manning. “I was not comfortable the entire time, from the first tee all the way down here.”

Woods was outstanding, albeit that he was playing at his home course. If there was a takeaway from what was essentially a bit of fun, it was that the former world No. 1 is ready. He just hasn’t said where he’s going to play yet.

Still, he loved being out on the course with Manning, who’s a good friend of his, and Brady. “I mean, this is our arena,’’ said Woods. “This what we do. I couldn’t imagine going out on the field and doing what they do!’’

The US PGA Tour resumes in Texas in two weeks’ time. The Korean women’s tour has already held a tournament, the European Tour and the LPGA tour are coming later. The anticipation builds…

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