A sports-starved nation is ready for some action on the links, and the upcoming Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning vs. Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady golf match provided much to be excited about.
Then they decided to throw a cold wet blanket on the excitement by choosing to have them play a format reserved for hackers and has-beens at a country club member-guest tournament.
Listen, it's hard to call out this event because the proceeds are going to benefit coronavirus relief efforts. You should donate to the cause and watch it on Sunday, May 24 at 3 ET. I will be watching for sure. But playing nine holes of best ball (taking the best score) and nine holes of quasi-alternate shot as the 18-hole format isn't exactly a thrilling setup. The first part is to be expected but not that exciting and the second is to decide who wins a $50 gift card at the yearly company golf outing.
These guys are better than that, man.
Woods and Mickelson remain two of the top players in the world and, from all reports, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have single-digit handicaps (that's good). While them being mic'd up and talking at a social-distance about how they want the other to play a shot will be interesting, I wanted to see a little Manning-Brady showdown as much as anything else. In the first part of this format (best ball), it will be Woods and Mickelson using their score most of the time and the other two pitching in once in a while. Not exactly thrilling stuff.
As for this altered-alternate shot nonsense, this was also a disappointment. Normally alternate shot is one person tees off, the next person hits, and then you go back-and-forth until the ball goes in the hole. Then on the next tee, the person who didn't tee off on the previous tee does on that one. In this match, everyone will tee off and they will take the best shot. This will be Phil and Tiger 99 percent of the time. They may use Manning or Brady's tee shot once or twice, but not often. Yes, I know Tiger and Phil can be wild off the tee. Still think it's safe to assume the pro golfers' tee shots will be used more often.
I love the idea of doing a Ryder-Cup style event, but they should have employed true Ryder Cup formats. Individual matches to start and foursomes (true alternate shot) would have been ideal. It creates drama, puts players in compromising positions, and proves who the strongest is mentally and as a player. These guys are good enough for that and it would have been fun seeing the ultra-competitive Manning-Brady rivalry alive once more. Or why not give Manning and Brady shots and have them play against Mickelson and Woods? That would have been more unique.
Instead we get the water-down version of this match, which will be watchable, but leaves a lot to be desired.