Tom Brady teamed up with Phil Mickelson to take on Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning in “The Match: Champions for Charity” and in the process raised more than $20 million for COVID-19-related organizations.
That’s one uplifting round of golf.
Brady made an additional donation to America, though, by improving the self-worth of every weekend hacker when he spent much of the round slicing drives, chunking chips and misreading putts.
Brady has spent a lot of Sunday afternoons on national television winning in ways no one else ever has, including capturing six Super Bowls. Here he was doing what is all too common among the masses — not looking so good on a golf course.
Well, mostly. Brady got better late in the match, and certainly had his moments, but for the most part, his play was erratic. There is no official score because of the format of the competition, which included a modified alternate-shot format on the back nine. Manning and Woods won the competition up one.
It was an entertaining afternoon, with all the players mic’d up and a decent amount of chatter and trash talk keeping things light.
As for the golf, well, when it came to Brady, it was often horrific, especially while playing his own ball on the front nine. He arrived as an 8.1-handicap and immediately spent the day spraying balls all over South Florida like a 28.
He could barely find the fairway. He couldn’t chip with any touch. It would be impolite to mention most of his putts. His confidence was so low, he left his driver in his bag. He even split his pants at one point. Seriously.
It was Clark Kent unable to find a phone booth.
At least, except for the par-5 seventh hole. First, broadcaster Charles Barkley started jabbing at Brady. Barkley, a famously bad golfer, joked Brady was playing so poorly that he would give TB some strokes just to lure him into a money game. Immediately after, Brady holed in for birdie from a little over 130 yards out.
“Take a suck of that, Chuck,” Brady cracked.
Good times. And it proved that Brady is human after all.
“That should reach fairway … over on seven,” Woods mocked Brady, who had just hit one from the tee box on three.
Consider the par-4 ninth, where Brady went water, penalty shot, fairway, bunker … and couldn’t find a drink cart to come by and rescue him by making everything better.
Millions of NFL fans could only wonder why it finally happened now, in the wrong sport?
“I’m liking this Florida Tom Brady,” New Orleans coach Sean Peyton tweeted.
The trash talk was rough. When the king stumbled, everyone had a wisecrack, on social media or in real life. He eventually played some respectable holes under heavy pressure, but by then, it was too late.
At one point, Barkley told Brady he’d give $50,000 to charity if Brady could hit the green on the par-3 fourth. Brady landed it on a distant cart path instead.
“I should have just said if you can just keep it on the planet,” Barkley said.
“Hey, when does football season start?” Brady asked.
In fairness, Brady is the only one in the group with an actual day job that isn’t “professional golfer.” Mickelson and Woods were worlds better than Manning and Brady, of course. And Manning certainly stays busy in his NFL retirement, but he’s a member at Augusta National and isn’t worried about trying to win the NFC South next fall.
Manning may not have been great all the time, but he had some moments, hit some putts and looked like his 6.4 index. He also led the way in jokes, jabbering like he was calling an audible at the line of scrimmage.
He name-dropped Ed Hochuli. He said he wouldn’t wear red and black like Woods because he didn’t want to help the University of Georgia recruit. He cracked a few “Omaha” jokes.
“Pretty good putt considering the crowd noise I was dealing with,” Manning said of a missed birdie opportunity in front of exactly zero fans.
“Eli would have made that one,” Brady joked after Manning missed a different putt a few holes later.
That was kind of how it worked. Where the golf lacked exhilaration, the players provided entertainment. This was way better than the original “The Match,” with Mickelson and Woods dueling for $9 million. Mickelson won, but there wasn’t nearly enough back and forth between them, let alone side bets.
That felt like subpar golf. This felt like some much-needed fun.
Maybe the best part, though, was Brady looking like an Everyman. If he was going to play like this, he should have snuck some beers in his bag, fired up a Padron and blared music in his cart.
“I’m trying to win a Super Bowl,” he noted, which is a pretty good excuse for the rust.
It was peak 2020. You know these are strange times when Tom Brady is terrible at something.
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