The Match for 2021 has been set in stone. The semi-recent intersection of golf and the NFL makes this fan of football and the flat stick incredibly happy. The second edition of The Match saw the highest cable television rating for a golf event ever, topping the first round of the 2010 Masters. That was when Tiger Woods returned to golf after, well, all of this. The greatest thing about these events is the money raised for charity. The fourth edition features six-time major champion Phil Mickelson and seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady versus one-time major winner Bryson DeChambeau and one-time Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers.
The Match 2021 | How we got here
Mickelson took home the first match, a one-on-one against Tiger Woods at Las Vegas’s famed Shadow Creek in 2018. The night golf was fun, but The Match morphed into something entirely new as the second iteration took it to the next level. Adding two of the three greatest quarterbacks ever to grace our presence helped too.
Manning and Mickelson are two of the most gravitational personalities around. Woods and Brady are the best ever to do it in their respective sports and are both awkward enough when mic’d up to provide their own comedic elements. Add in having to play in a monsoon and Brady struggling to show he’d ever held a golf club early on, and the product shined brighter than a dying star.
Then, Brady sank a 110-yard wedge shot, tearing a hole in his competition and his own pants. Unfortunately, the hole-out was for birdie and not eagle, and he and Mickelson only tied the hole. So, they’d end up losing the match in a close contest.
The most surprising result somehow was when the professional golfer, Mickelson, teamed up with Charles Barkley to defeat Manning and Steph Curry in The Match 3. Many believed Barkley would be so horrific that he’d bring down the professional golfer to a level where they couldn’t defeat two amateurs. If I had been allowed to gamble on that match legally, I would have made some nice money. Thanks, Texas.
The Match 2021 | The who
It’s nearly impossible to argue who moves the needle in golf now. The 27-year-old bomber DeChambeau isn’t THE needle, but he’s the biggest name in the sport as Woods deals with rehabbing his most recent injury. DeChambeau teams with Rodgers in what will go down as one of the most one-sided conversations over an 18-hole match ever.
The team dynamic between the two makes no sense, which for me adds to the overall intrigue. For non-golf fans reading this, DeChambeau and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka are currently firing social media shots at one another. Brooks actually apologized to Rodgers on Twitter after the pairings for The Match were announced. We’re getting on some WWE-type shenanigans with two of golf’s best players, and I need more of it.
DeChambeau would be one of the most interesting characters in professional sports, even if he weren’t one of the top-five players in his particular sport. The…idiosyncrasies…were apparent the first time we saw him on the television screen. He wore the Hogan cap long before his professional career began and well before gaining significant mass to add distance. At just 17, he and his coach built his first set of one-length irons.
He’s gained 50 pounds since turning pro. The once lean DeChambeau is around the same height and weight as Haason Reddick, at 6-foot-1, 240 pounds. I’d echo the same trope of “he looks like a linebacker, not a golfer,” but since it’s already been used for guys like Koepka, who is more the size of a defensive back, I’ll let it be.
There is nobody in the game of golf who tinkers like DeChambeau. Oftentimes, he’s proven correct in his experiments. Yet, he’s also a complete tool. Immediately prior to the most recent PGA Tour event in Detroit, DeChambeau and his caddie “took a break”. That left DeChambeau essentially making his own decisions with limited assistance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
He speaks over his own head about scientific forces he doesn’t actually understand to sound cool in interviews. He acts like the Koepka feud doesn’t bother him, but it’s clear by everything he posts on social media and by his other actions that he struggles with the negativity. Golf would be so much better if he’d embrace the heel role he plays.
Kind of like Rodgers is currently with the Packers.
Rodgers is having quite the summer so far, and his social media presence has been impressive. Not only have we seen him on Jeopardy, but Rodgers also went galavanting around Hawaii with fiancé Shailene Woodley and vacation-mate Miles Teller. Rodgers is embracing his inner Adrien Brody. As such, it’s only natural that Rodgers participates in the 2021 iteration of The Match.
So, how is his golf game?
Well, as you can imagine from his hole-in-one with a driver during a recent State Farm ad, the kid can play a little bit. Rodgers teamed up with Max Homa for the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where they’d eventually take home a T-9 finish. Rodgers is reportedly somewhere around a 3.5 handicap, which is better than both Manning and Brady. So at least Rodgers has that on the GOAT.
I would imagine Rodgers’ form is tip-top in his summer of no responsibilities. The “complicated fella” skipped mandatory minicamp, and his future with the Green Bay Packers remains unclear. DeChambeau and Rodgers should be the heavy favorites when they tee off in Montana.
Mickelson is fresh off his sixth major victory, winning the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. The 51-year-old Mickelson, much like the 43-year-old Brady, is fairly new to the social media game. However, both absolutely exploded onto the scene. Mickelson did it with hilarious video content about “hitting bombs” or rehashing videos of him dancing for a commercial. He’s become a meme of sorts.
His next major win was going to be on the Champions TOUR until it wasn’t. It doesn’t take too long on Google to realize Mickelson is a pretty complicated fella as well. But he’s the most entertaining entity in the sport outside of his competitor for The Match 2021.
The course in Montana is at 7,500 feet elevation, so get ready for some absolute rockets to be launched into the atmosphere from Mickelson and DeChambeau on the 8,000-yard course.
After looking about as gracious as a baby giraffe learning to walk, Brady turned his game around to look respectable on the back nine. Brady has become a social media savant. It’s probably a hired manager handling his Twitter account, but he’s still playing Commodus giving the thumbs up or thumbs down before they hit send.
Brady said he’d played Rodgers once before in a nine-hole match at the famed Riviera Country Club, in which Rodgers won. I’d say, unfortunately for Brady, the odds are again stacked against him. Yet, he still has seven Super Bowl victories, and despite being possibly the greatest football player of all time, he gets to go home to someone wealthier than him. I think he’ll sleep okay no matter what happens on July 6.
The Match 2021 | Where, when, why, and how
Now, let’s examine how to watch this hilariously awkward modified alternate shot match.
Where the match will be
If you’ve made it this far, The Match 2021 will be in Montana. More specifically, it’s at Moonlight Basin Ranch, a Jack Nicklaus design. The course, and the ski resort accompanying the property, sits in the village of Big Sky. The course may seem like a beat at 8,000 yards, but the elevation is nearly as high.
The ball is going to explode off the clubface. It will be interesting to see how the amateurs handle that throughout the match as they choose clubs.
The Nicklaus Design company built this golf course to wow both the golfers in attendance and television viewers with the spectacular scenery. The elevation changes throughout the course appear dramatic, and even some holes offer unreal changes. It starts on the first tee with a view of the course in the foreground and the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
How to watch on TV
Viewers can find the fourth iteration of The Match on TNT. Hopefully, that means we get as much Barkley on the broadcast as humanly possible. He was outstanding during The Match II, bantering back and forth with the TOUR’s Justin Thomas.
Then, Barkley put his money where his mouth was and helped win The Match 3 with Mickelson. Barkley’s golf game is the butt of many jokes, but he put that product out on television for charity and actually made a respectable showing of it.
When to watch on TV
The Match 4 starts at 5 P.M. Eastern on July 6. The event begins today, immediately following the Rocket Mortgage Classic. DeChambeau had a rough time defending his title Detroit Golf Club. After missing the cut in Detroit, DeChambeau had plenty of time in which to make the journey to Big Sky.
Why they do it
Proceeds from The Match 2021 benefit Feeding America. The Match II raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief. The Match 3 raised over $6 million for HBCUs and Feeding America.
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