Executives at TBS learned from the first exhibition contest between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and are determined to make “The Match: Champions for Charity” a much better product. It seems like every aspect of the second made-for-television show has been scrutinized and tinkered with to achieve that goal.
So, when Sunday’s contest comes at the Medalist at Hobe Sound, Florida, producers are confident that they will have something worth watching. Mickelson, who was involved in bringing “The Match: Champions for Charity” to life, was on the Dan Patrick radio show this week and said changes were definitely needed.
“(Producer) Bryan Zuriff and I were the ones who came up with the idea years ago and brought it to CAA and had it developed before we even brought it to Tiger,” Mickelson said. “He has a very creative mind and thought the interaction between two other players was going to be an important part of improving our match.”
Banter Crucial to Success
Fixing the banter — or, more accurately — the lack of banter between the players was the most glaring issue producers had to address for this year’s broadcast. In the first iteration of “The Match,” Woods and Mickelson treated the event like a major championship, and the stilted conversation showed.
“Tiger and I clamped up the first time,” Mickelson told Golfweek. “That won’t happen again.”
Especially with the two additions to the competition. When Sunday’s event tees off, Tom Brady will play alongside Mickelson, while Peyton Manning will play with Woods. Adding the two amateur golfers to the mix has already paid dividends. The duo is comfortable in the spotlight, and have taken the lead in trash talking.
Manning took a jab at Brady’s recent faux pas of entering a stranger’s house in Florida. Brady countered with talking about how he was glad he wasn’t playing against Manning’s younger brother, Eli, who beat him in two SuperBowls.
Other Changes on Tap
The changes to “The Match: Champions for Charity” didn’t stop there. Instead of straight match play, this version will feature two different golf formats. The front nine will be a best-ball competition, with each golfer playing his own ball on the first nine holes. The best score posted by each team will count.
The back nine will feature a modified alternate shot format. The four golfers will tee off, and the best drive from the two teams will be chosen. Then the two teams will alternate the next shots until the ball is in the hole.
There will also be a long drive hole on No. 3. Woods and Mickelson are the overwhelming favorites at +130. Brady and Manning are +700. The next hole will feature a closest to the pin. The odds are a little more even. Woods is the favorite at +125, while Mickelson is +175, Manning +500, and Brady +600.
One factor that will carry over from the original telecast is the use of NBA analyst Charles Barkley as one of the broadcasters. Barkley, known for his outlandish announcing style, was one of the few highlights from the first match between Woods and Mickelson. Brian Anderson, who calls MLB and NBA action for Turner, will do play-by-play.
“I’m in there just to make sure we get to commercial on time,” Anderson said.