For the second Sunday in a row, the golf world was treated to a live event, and "The Match: Champions for Charity" at the Medalist Golf Club certainly did not disappoint.
The match had a wide appeal beyond golf's typical audience with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady joining the festivities, and the legendary quarterbacks partnered with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to put on a highly entertaining show in a steady downpour.
Here are seven takeaways from The Match II:
Brady holds an 8.1 handicap index, but it didn't take long for the world to see that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new quarterback likely hasn't been spending much time on the golf course. The 42-year-old, who apparently played 18 holes in the morning and then ran wind sprints in the parking lot, struggled from the get-go in the wet conditions. Twitter users took advantage of their first chance in 20 years to take some shots at Brady, including this barb from New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
After excelling in just about everything he's ever done, the six-time Super Bowl champion finally looked human.
That whole "Brady finally looked human" thing lasted for roughly 30 minutes before he reminded us that he's one of the greatest athletes in the world. With notably poor golfer Charles Barkley in his ear demanding a match, Brady silenced the critics with an incredible hole-out from the fairway, securing a $100,000 donation from Brooks Koepka in the process. It's been more than two months since we lost live sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. Somehow, it was Tom Brady on a golf course providing us with the first "Oh, my God" moment in nine weeks.
Given his gregarious personality, most expected Manning to carry the chatter throughout the day. While the five-time MVP certainly did that, he also showed he's no slouch when it comes to the actual game. Manning, who owns a stake in Tennessee's popular Sweetens Cove Golf Club, showed a very reliable draw off the tee and demonstrated a strong iron game throughout the front nine. He shined particularly bright on the par-3 holes, including his own birdie thanks to an impressive putt on the front and a near-ace on the 16th. The legendary quarterback's combination of golfing skills and personality makes him a must-have for any future matches in this style.
The last news we had about Woods and a golf event came when he announced he wasn't quite healthy enough for the Players Championship. It seems the layoff has done wonders, as he looked incredible throughout the day. He was absolutely lethal off the tee, only missing one fairway, and he showed off his trademark iron game over the challenging Medalist layout. It wasn't just his play that looked great; the 15-time major winner looked as loose as he ever has on a golf course. He spent the front nine joking with Phil about his U.S. Open wins, playing caddie to Manning, and annoying Justin Thomas in the latter's role as an on-course reporter. It was great to see Woods in a different light, and he showed he's more than ready to compete when the PGA Tour returns.
While the chatter during Phil and Tiger's first match may have fallen a bit flat, Mickelson was a star on the microphone with the addition of a partner for this version. He started with an outstanding chipping lesson with Thomas on the front nine, almost holing the shot immediately afterward. The jokes continued when the soon-to-be 50-year-old asked Tiger to mark his ball on the green before he attempted a hooked 6-iron from the woods. Despite being 3-down at the turn, Mickelson reacted with glee as he drove toward the green and saw his ball after hitting a trademark bomb off the tee on No. 10. He may have saved his best for last, though, talking the audience through an insane 90-yard skip-and-check shot in the pouring rain as the ball did exactly what he said it would. Some of his jokes may be corny, but Mickelson is in his element wearing a microphone and hitting shots most people only dream of.
The fourth-ranked golfer in the world absolutely nailed it as an on-course reporter. Thomas added a dimension that broadcasts of previous matches lacked, chiming in at the right moments with great analysis and getting the most out of the players. He teed up Mickelson for a deep dive into a tricky chip shot; he provided several fun moments by chirping Brady and going after Barkley's weight; he shared a great story about Woods telling him to "hit the f------ fairway" while playing alternate shot at the 2019 Presidents Cup. If JT's golf career somehow flames out, he'll have no problem on the microphone.
In a world where everyone expects 72-hole tournaments, The Match II proved there is another way to draw entertainment from watching athletes chase a little white ball around. The organizers of Sunday's competition definitely learned from the mistakes made in two prior matches of a similar style, and they should be applauded for making all the necessary tweaks to give fans a great product.