Capital One’s The Match series has become one of golf’s most anticipated annual events since Tiger and Phil first squared off in the inaugural 2018 event. Fans of the sport sat glued to their TVs as two of history’s greatest golfers, fully mic’d up, razzed each other up and down the course, and wagered a total of $1.8M in side-bets. It was a much-needed moment of pure fun for a sport that historically takes itself very seriously.
Two more events have been played since then, and the format has shifted to more of a pro-am that includes celebrities and cross-sport stars. The head-to-head drama of Woods vs. Mickelson that night may never be duplicated, but the series has remained an absolute blast to watch.
This afternoon, The Match returns with its fourth installment, aptly named The Match IV. This year will pair 2021 PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson with his old friend and partner, 2020 Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. The two teamed up in The Match: Champions for Charity, the second event in the series, and faced off against Tiger Woods and Payton Manning. They mounted a heroic comeback but ultimately fell short. They will have a chance to redeem themselves today but will face a new challenge.
On the other side, the long-driving 27-year-old Bryson DeChambeau will be playing with 2020 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. This will be the first Match event for both DeChambeau and Rodgers.
The Course and Play Format
The Match IV will be played at the scenic Reserve Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana. As profiled in this Golf Digest course preview, The Reserve at Moonlight Basin is a sprawling, beautiful course that is nestled alongside Montana’s Big Sky resort. It sits 7,500 feet above sea level and approaches an astonishing 8,000 yards in total distance. It includes a storied 777-yard par-five hole. The elevation, distances, and backdrop make this course a difficult one to judge in terms of ball carry.
The event will be played in match-play format using a modified alternate shot approach. As always, in-person wagering will be a staple for the event, and smack-talk is encouraged. There also appear to be a few mini-events within the game, including a one-club, closest to the pin, and long-drive challenge.
DeChambeau and Rodgers are currently the favorites at -177 odds with Mickelson and Brady getting +130 odds at this time, per BetRivers. This is understandable and it’s easy to want to lean on DeChambeau’s long drive on this marathon course. Aaron Rodgers is also a very good golfer in his own right. In this 2019 interview, he claimed to be a 3.5 handicap at his best. Brady is said to be about an 8, but even Rodgers admits that could be a bit understated.
It’s hard to get too analytical on this wild-card event. It’s all for fun and that’s the angle I’m playing. Yes, DeChambeau has the power to thrive on this course, and in any other situation, I’d bet the house on him. But in this event, I think that may harm him.
Phil will be in DeChambeau’s ear all day long, egging him on and even betting against him for long drives. Don’t forget that even at 51-years-old, “Lefty” can still put the ball out there well over 300 yards. While watching these two kill the ball all day will be fun, DeChambeau has struggled mightily to find the fairway recently. He missed the cut last week in Detroit, hitting just 50% of fairways in his second round. That will kill him here. I think Phil will smack-talk Bryson right into the rough all day. He already began the subliminal attacks.
The two NFL stars will be blasting each other right along with the pros. Tom Brady has already started his campaign to rattle the embattled Packers’ leader.
From the golf aspect, who knows how The Match IV will play out. DeChambeau and Rodgers are the younger and more skilled team, but they’re both new comers to this event. Can they handle the pressure the veterans are going to lay on them? Who knows, but I’m betting on them faltering. I’m valuing the underdogs here.
Pick: Mickelson and Brady +130
One things for sure, this is going to be a fun afternoon, and I’m all here for it!
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