The Match: Ranking the made-for-TV matches from best to worst

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

As professional golf tours go on holiday hiatus, it’s time for yet another made-for-TV match.

Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will square off one-on-one in the fifth version of The Match this Friday, Nov. 26, in a 12-hole duel at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas.

Even though the first Match, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson back in November 2018 in Las Vegas, didn’t quite live up to the hype, it proved there was a market for the competition. Over the years the matches have grown into charitable causes benefitting COVID-19 relief and HBCU’s while still providing golf fans a unique product outside of 72-hole stroke-play tournaments.

So, which has been the best?

1. The Match: Champions for Charity

The best match yet. Champions for Charity, held May 24, 2020 at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, as the sequel to the first Match, featured Woods and Mickelson again, this time partnered with NFL legends Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, respectively.

The match raised more than $20 million for COVID-19 relief when it was desperately needed, was a record golf broadcast, and on top of that, we all watched Brady rip his pants on national television. In all seriousness, the players delivered (despite the weather), as did on-course analyst Justin Thomas, who showed he has a bright future in TV when he’s done being a top-10 golfer in the world.

In fact, one of the best parts of the broadcast was the verbal haymaker Thomas threw at broadcast host Charles Barkley when he said, “Chuck, I’d love to see your fat ass try to dunk a basketball right now.”

It was entertaining, compelling and charitable all at the same time. What more could fans ask for?

[vertical-gallery id=778045775]

2. The Match IV

The best and worst were easy to pick, but these middle matches could be interchangeable in the No. 2 and 3 spots. For me, I’ll take the most-recent match, the fourth installment played July 6, 2021, at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana. Mickelson and Brady were back, but once against lost, this time to newbies Aaron Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau, 3 and 2.

The Match IV benefitted the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Feeding America and the Montana Food Bank Network. More than $2.6 million was donated to My Brother’s Keeper and more than 6.3 million meals were donated.

Coming into this one, I’m not going to lie, I felt a little bad for DeChambeau. I mean, the guy was taking shots from his own teammate leading up to the match. After a bad joke on the first hole followed by a bunny-ears photo, the stage was set for some cringe-worthy attempts at humor from the big bomber. And then he chipped in for birdie on the first hole to give he and Rodgers the lead.

Mickelson and Brady led for just three as Rodgers carried his own weight off the tee and on the green. At one point six of his seven drives were played, and then he started walking in putts.

Rodgers brought the dry humor and jokes, Mickelson and DeChambeau gave tips and advice while launching bombs, Brady was Brady and a good time was had by all.

3. The Match: Champions for Change

The third Match, Champions for Change, also ended early. Held November 27, 2020 at Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Arizona, Mickelson teamed up with Barkley to take down Manning and Stephen Curry with ease, 4 and 3. In the 15 holes it took Mickelson and Barkley to win, $4.4 million was raised for History Black Colleges and Universities. Thanks to the additional challenge holes, the total grew to $5.4 million.

Three analysts (Andre Iguodala, Gary McCord and Cheyenne Woods), two guys (Brian Anderson and Trevor Immelman) in the booth and four mic’d up players during a pandemic-impacted broadcast was a recipe for disaster on the production side for viewers. On the course, Barkley’s re-vamped swing and the hilarious trash talk kept this event from being bad, but certainly didn’t provide the same juice as the others.

[vertical-gallery id=778075234]

4. The Match: Tiger vs. Phil

The original $9 million, winner-take-all bout in Vegas was highly anticipated, and like many over-hyped events, fell a little flat. Sure, the match went to a playoff that ended on a makeshift 22nd hole won by Mickelson, but just because it was close doesn’t necessarily mean it was good. Technical issues plagued the broadcast forcing Turner and other providers to dish out refunds. Not a great start.

The front nine was bad, there’s no other way to say it, but as the match went on it got closer and more exciting. Much like the play, the hyped-up banter left something to be desired. The most damning criticism of the first match? Rickie Fowler called it a “pillow fight.”

1

1