When it comes to The Match, the second time was the charm.
Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning’s victory over Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady turned out to be exciting television on Monday, making the second edition of Capital One’s The Match – this one raising $US20 million for COVID-19 relief after the original was a one-on-one match for a $9 million prize – a smashing success.
Despite biblical rain, some horrible shots and a few awkward moments, all four men fed off each other perfectly, creating a delightfully low-key atmosphere. It felt as though the viewer was dropped into this legendary foursome, fly-on-the-wall style, which was exactly the idea. If the first match tried too hard, this one tried just hard enough.
We came up with the following suggestions:
The obvious No.1 choice to spearhead a made-for-TV golf event in this country. Apart from being one of the nicest blokes in the game and Australia’s No.1 player (currently ranked No.6 in the world), Scott is a proven performer on the mic after his Instagram exhibition match with good mate Wayne Perske earlier this month. Making Scotty the face of it just makes sense.
The inaugural MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins champion, Day loves these types of events where he can let his swagger shine. But the question on everyone’s lips is: does he love Australia enough to come back and make it happen? And would his ongoing back issues hold up? Suffice to say, what better opportunity to rekindle the greatest love-hate relationship in the game than by coming home to play and raise money for charity?
If we surveyed the country about who they really love to watch, this guy’s name would be right up there. The loveable larrikin from Warrnambool loves coming home, loves playing, loves a beer and has struck up great friendships with a host of sporting celebrities that would provide plenty of fun banter and pairing options for promoters.
Australia’s newest Major champion perhaps hasn’t been paid her dues for such a commanding 2019 season. She deserves more of the spotlight, and pitting her in a made-for-TV event where she can showcase her talents and endearing personality to a national audience would be just reward for her unheralded standing in the Australian sporting landscape.
Don’t be fooled by his shy demeanour or baby-faced looks … Cam Smith can dish it out with the best of them. The world No.35 loves a bit of niggle and can handle pressure as well as anyone, as shown by his gritty Sony Open playoff victory in January. And while he doesn’t have the gift of the gab in front of a room full of journalists, one suspects we would see the best of the Queenslander when he’s mic’d up in the heat of battle.
A little left-field given his competitive days are well past him but imagine the TV ratings – even the gate takings if COVID-19 finally disappears – if the Great White Shark returned to Australia’s fairways? No stranger to acts of philanthropy or exhibition appearances in years gone by, Norman would still command a rockstar reception at 65 years of age and form one-half of an all-star pairing.
Like Norman, her best days are long gone but what a potential match-up against the Shark it would be in the battle for “Australia’s Greatest Golfer” tag. Webb was arguably the second best golfer on the planet at her peak while Tiger Woods was doing his thing. She inspired generations of young women to take up the sport. Why not provide her with another platform to do it all again?
Australia’s equivalent to Tom Brady, in terms of both sporting legacy and golf ability. The only hurdle in getting Warnie to accept such an invitation would be finding a gap in his calendar in between his other golf commitments. The Australian cricket legend is absolutely obsessed with the fairways as much as Australia remains fascinated with him. He also boasts unrivalled experience performing in front of the cameras, and was arguably the greatest sledger in the history of sports. Like Adam Scott, the first pick for a made-for-TV spectacle.
The former Australian Test cricket captain is the ultimate competitor – and a pretty handy golfer to boot. The low-marker, like Warnie, spends most of his days on the greens and would certainly add to the high-profile stakes of such a shootout. Never afraid to say what’s on his mind, Punter would add some entertaining banter between shots.
It’s been suggested Australia’s tennis sensation could have turned pro in golf had she dedicated all her time to the craft. She even gave onlookers a sneak-peek of her freakish ability when she upstaged Tiger Woods in a par-3 shootout during a Presidents Cup promotional event in Melbourne [above]. And thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown of tennis, Barty has reportedly slashed her handicap from 10 to five in recent weeks, thanks to regular rounds with her trainee pro boyfriend Garry Kissick. An Aussie version of The Match could do a lot worse than add its most loved sportsperson to the lineup.
If pure golfing ability was the criteria for selection, Goddard would be a walk-up start. The former AFL star is arguably the No.1 Athlete Golfer in the country, having already built a formidable pennants record in Melbourne. He’s also not shy on the microphone, whether it’s taking questions from reporters or asking them himself when he’s on special-guest commentary duties for the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Similar to Goddard, Anasta has turned his talents to media post football and comes with an impressive golf game. Such is his love for the sport, he even manages the affairs of some of our best young players. But after the former plus-marker made a disastrous debut at the 2011 NSW PGA Championship (he shot 20-over after two rounds), one suspects he’d love another shot to prove he has what it takes to match it with the pros in front of a big audience.
When Groth retired from tennis in late 2017, he was an 18-marker. Today, he is playing off 3. Not surprisingly, the man who still holds the world record for the fastest serve in tennis also hits the golf ball out of sight…we mean REALLY long – perfect for TV! He’s also becoming a polished media performer and would love the banter between shots.