Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson II (plus Brady and Manning)? Yes, please

·5 min read

At this point, the deal is as much speculation than anything, rumors that people are trying to will into reality. Nothing is imminent. Nothing is done. Yet this also isn’t some cruel April Fools’ Day joke.

It very well may happen, which is good, because for sports-starved fans staring into an increasingly harrowing pandemic, it serves as a glimmer of hope.

Tiger v. Phil II, only this time with playing partners Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

It makes too much sense not to occur, at least if Brady is willing to step away from learning the Tampa Bay playbook for an afternoon of golf.

As a way of reminder, back on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2018, “The Match: Tiger v. Phil” took place at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. The winner (in this case Phil Mickelson) took home $9 million. There were an additional $800,000 in side bets that went to charity.

No need to let nostalgia or desperation cloud reality — the event wasn’t very good. First off, it was on pay-per-view, which sort of spoiled its everyman appeal. Then there were widespread distribution problems that messed it up.

The golf was underwhelming. Phil finally won by outlasting Tiger in anticlimactic fashion on the 22nd hole, a gimmicked, 93-yard par 3 that was like the clown’s mouth closing hole at the local Putt-Putt. Except neither guy could birdie it.

There was a decided lack of tension between them. Trash talk was held to a minimum. There was hardly any talk out of them, especially Tiger. They forgot to bet. They were too serious.

It seemed like a great idea — what if we could film Woods and Mickelson as they play a competitive yet fun round? Instead, it fell flat. Stuffed into a weekend with endless college and pro football — not to mention the NBA, NHL, college basketball and who knows what else — it felt unnecessary.

Well, we aren’t so lucky anymore. Suddenly the idea of a made-for-TV golf event is must-see TV.

If Manning and Brady arrive as playing partners, then all the better. It adds some new blood, more action and should keep Woods from going into full-inner focus mode.

Manning is a relentless trash talker, has a comedic wit and is an excellent golfer — he’s also reportedly a member of Augusta National, where he once shot 77. Brady is his greatest rival and is a fiery competitor as well — we don’t know how funny he’d be, but six Lombardi Trophies will get you the invite here.

Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson I was a train wreck, but a reboot would be perfect during the coronavirus shutdown. (AP)
Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson I was a train wreck, but a reboot would be perfect during the coronavirus shutdown. (AP)

They should help with the chemistry.

Some suggested improvements?

The entire thing should be done for charity. Needless to say, America (not to mention the rest of the world) is facing near unprecedented challenges right now. Anything to aid in the fight against COVID-19 ... or in support of doctors and nurses (or the families of doctors and nurses we inevitably lose) … or aiding the unemployed and displaced will help. Anything.

Absolutely no one wants to see a bunch of filthy rich guys make even more money.

And it shouldn’t just be the pot that goes to charity, the entire broadcast should be a fundraiser, with people manning socially distanced phone banks to take in donations. Make it big. Really big.

Second, it needs to be on broadcast television. These are stressful times. Health. Family. Economic. The public needs a distraction and unlike during even wars or disasters, there isn’t much.

No sports, either live or on television. No movie theaters. No concerts. No parades. No restaurants or bars (at least in most of the country, and it will be everywhere soon enough). A few hours of entertainment, a few hours of distraction, a few hours of losing yourself in something else could be invaluable.

Yes, this is just a tricked-up, made-for-TV charity event, but at least it is something.

Putting this on broadcast television where it can reach the largest possible audience, including those who no longer can afford cable, streaming services or pay-per-views, is paramount.

Finally, it should serve as a model, perhaps. At least for golf.

This seemingly can be pulled off safely. We’re talking about four golfers and four caddies out on an expansive, maybe 200-acre golf course. No fans would be allowed, so there’d be no need for security or operations. A skeleton television production crew could handle the broadcast.

No high fives. No post round handshakes. The pin stays in. Hand sanitizer after each hole. Everyone stands six feet apart. Pre-event coronavirus testing for everyone. Whatever it takes.

If this is possible, then can it be extended out to more and more participants and perhaps usher the PGA Tour (in some form) back as soon as possible. If there is one sport that seems doable, it’s the PGA. In many places, even under stay at home orders, regular people can play golf. Why not the pros under strict control?

That’s the long term dream. At this point, Tiger-Phil II with some NFL flair is the first step. And a significant one.

The rumor has it coming in May. So, one more suggestion.

Why wait that long?

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