Tiger vs. Phil (and Tom vs. Peyton) Turn Rivalry Into Laughs

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Tiger Woods beat Phil Mickelson during a head-to-head rematch while their mortal-looking N.F.L. partners — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — drew barbs and laughs.

The charity golf match pitting Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady on Sunday figured to be good TV. It had big names, longstanding rivalries spanning two sports, an intriguing combination of talents and therefore the prospect of the unforeseen.

To say it didn’t disappoint would be an irony . Because, seriously, did anyone truly expect these developments?

Right from the beginning , Brady played so horrendously — in one 30-minute stretch he put consecutive tee shots within the woods, a pond and on a cart path next to the out of bounds — that he was mocked by the guest TV analyst Charles Barkley, whose golf swing is as bad as any ever captured on video. Brady looked more disgusted than he had after his final N.F.L. pass last season, which was a pick-6 during a playoff rout.

Twitter followers within the 44 states outside New England were jubilant and will not type their taunts of Brady fast enough. A grinning Bill Belichick must have felt vindicated for abandoning on an aging athlete clearly on the decline. Brooks Koepka, the world’s third-ranked golfer, who was watching from his Florida home, posted to Twitter that he would donate $100,000 to coronavirus relief efforts if Brady parred a hole on the front nine.

Then, one hole after even Woods taunted Brady for finally hitting a fairway off the tee — except not on the opening they were playing — Brady hit a wedge shot from quite 100 yards within the seventh fairway that bounced on the green and rolled backward into the opening .

“Shut your mouth, Chuck,” Brady yelled in response to Barkley’s commentary, which during this exhibition was delivered directly into an earpiece Brady was wearing.

“Brooks owes me a touch money,” Brady crowed.

Oh, yes, and then, together with his back to the tv cameras, Brady bent over to retrieve his ball from the seventh hole and split his pants for all to ascertain .

Do you think that elicited a response on social media?

Brady’s dramatic shot also gave the Brady-Mickelson team a jolt of momentum at a time when it had been being trounced. And magically, Brady suddenly began to play better. The competition at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., grew close and had juice with genuinely biting, but funny, banter between the participants.

And it went right down to the ultimate putt on the last hole with Woods and Manning winning, 1-up.

Moreover, with the assistance of Brady’s comeback, and therefore the solid play and winsome personality of Manning, Sunday’s match provided quite four hours of entertaining live sports which will presumably be a serious television ratings success.

The event was originally billed as a rematch of sorts, pitting Woods and Mickelson two years after they played an uneventful head-to-head contest on Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, on a pay-per-view broadcast was riddled with problems. Sunday’s reprise was saved by the N.F.L. interlopers, which really won’t are a surprise since everyday golfers like to imagine how they might handle the pressure of twiddling with top golf pros on national TV.

Hint: we might appear as if Brady before the seventh hole.

Yes, to make certain , Brady and Manning, two of the foremost accomplished athletes of the last 25 years, aren’t average people plucked off the road . But as golfers they sure seemed like it from time to time. And watching Woods and Mickelson attempt to work thereupon level of golf expertise to win a match was fascinating.

And here are two discoveries from watching that have unfold:

Woods isn’t warm and fuzzy, but his golf and surgically rebuilt back are both in terrific shape. Woods rarely missed an attempt of any kind and consistently hammered his driver, a sometime nemesis, accurately and with power. Woods’s swing was fluid, he walked with ease and he frequently bent and stretched with none apparent discomfort. His short game might be dazzling.

Mickelson thinks he’s “Phil” Nye the Science Guy.

Mickelson’s dissertations to Brady on the way to stroke a 10-foot putt would continue for about two minutes with detailed explanations about how the shading of a green surface reflected the grass grain and would affect the rolling of a putt. it had been great stuff for golf geeks, but by the top of the match it had been as if Mickelson was trying out for a neighborhood on “The explosion Theory.”

The match wasn’t always the best promotion of social distancing. The golfers stood but six feet aside from time to time. there have been occasional fist bumps. Once or twice, a ball was snatched from the green and flipped to a partner.

Those are no-nos and not hard to avoid. Since the PGA Tour expects to resume next month, golf officials need to remind the players they are setting examples for millions of recreational golfers around the world. Everybody is happy to be back on the golf course again, but minding the little things about playing safely will ensure that opportunity doesn’t go away.

But over all, Sunday’s match was a welcome reminder of why we watch sports. There was the unexpected, which was Brady, often called the greatest player of all time in a dangerous sport with countless fast-moving parts, feeling humiliated because he couldn’t control a little white ball that wasn’t even moving as he swung at it. Then, for Brady, there was startling, unpredicted revival and redemption.

Everyone, even his opponents, smiled. The competition and camaraderie continued.


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