Tiger Woods exacted revenge of long-time rival Phil Mickelson when the reigning Masters champion teamed with Peyton Manning to win 1up over ‘Lefty’ and Tom Brady in ‘The Match: Champions for Charity’ on a rainy Sunday afternoon at the Medalist Golf Club at Hobe Sound in Florida.
In conditions more akin to playing links golf in Ireland or Scotland, the four superstar sportsmen braved the awful Florida spring weather for Woods and Peyton to hold on to win 1up at the final hole at the very exclusive club.
And it was a tribute to organisers that a massive $20m was raised for Covid-19 relief in the U.S., $10m more than expected.
Some 18-months ago, Mickelson beat Woods in a play-off in a winner-take-all $9m purse in Las Vegas.
After last week’s ‘Sunday at Seminole’, the Match at the Medalist Club added the extra flavour of two of the greats of NFL in golf-mad Manning and Brady.
The Medalist Club is a mirror of Seminole in that it’s an ultra-exclusive, near impossible to get access golf club but for Woods, the course is his ‘home’ course but then no-one was expecting the weather that worked hard to spoil the ‘made-for-tv’ showdown on Memorial weekend.
There was the sight of another Medalist member in Justin Thomas acting as an on-course reporter, though ‘JT’ is clearly better with a golf club in his hand than a microphone.
Woods and Manning jumped to an early 3up lead but it was Brady, a six-time Superbowl winner, who stole the individual honours, even splitting his pants in playing a second shot that found the bottom of the cup for an eagle ‘2’ at the par-four 7th hole.
Mickelson then pulled off the drive of the event in sending a massive ‘bomb’ off the tee at the dog-leg par-four 11th hole, cutting the corner over the trees and hitting the putting surface just feet from the flag before pulling-up in the back left corner of the green.
After much advice from Mickelson, Brady holed the eagle putt for a ‘2’ to get the team within two of Woods and Manning.
They were gifted the 14th after Manning missed an easy par putt, putting Mickelson and Brady back to 1down.
The remaining four holes were halved in near darkness and with Woods left with two putts on the final green to seal victory, he made no mistake.
Woods, wearing his traditional Sunday red shirt, was playing for the first time since February 16th when he finished last in his Genesis Open at Riviera in Los Angeles. He chose not to play the next four weeks with his back not feeling right, and then the pandemic shut down golf and sports worldwide.
And despite a long layout, Woods looked sharp for the most part with his game and in responding to a Mickelson tease on the fifth hole when asking Woods if he would mark his ball from some 80 yards away:
“You want me to mark with a U.S. Open medal,” joked Woods, with reference to the only Major to have alluded Mickelson.
“Do you have one? I have some silver ones,” Mickelson said, referring to his record six runner-up finishes.
Mickelson boasted about taking Woods down on his home course at Medalist, and now their TV matches are tied at 1, even with each getting a little help. Mickelson said he was a little nervous on the front nine until he found his groove, driving the green on the par-4 11th with Brady making a 20-footer for eagle that began their rally.
“Phil said he was nervous. I know Tom and I were comparing notes,” Manning said. “To be behind the ropes in these guys’ worlds, to be in the arena with them, it was really a special experience. I was not comfortable the entire time.
“Knowing $20 million was raised and helping people going through tough times, it was an honour to be invited.
“It’s something I’ll always remember.”