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The Match: How-to make the most out of an outmoded idea

The Match: How-to make the most out of an outmoded idea

by Brian SudelisDecember 9, 2022

The original-idea for “The Match” format was born from an almost-ancient concept. Most readers would have to dust-off their father’s old issues of Golf Digest to recall Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf. It was originally devised during the 60’s as a way to drum-up interest in the personalities of golf at that time. It lasted a few years until 1970.

Around 1994, Jack Nicklaus decided to revisit the mostly-forgotten format of one-on-one golf competition.

Many of the top players in the game participated in this series when it was recreated. It gave an “inside the ropes” approach to the game, and featured numerous stars spanning multiple decades. 2003 saw the end of the series. For fifteen-years, the idea lay dormant.

COVID restarts the brand

During the pandemic, which saw the destruction of organized sports as we knew it; people were yearning for live competition. After a few months of re-watching Cheers and some wack-a-doo with a mullet and some Tigers; folks were ready for sports again.

The 4-major sports struggled with the planning and execution of trying to restart their leagues. Empty stands, COVID-testing, rule-changes made most forms of competition almost unwatchable. However, there was one sport that stood a chance. Golf.

Inherent in it’s basic design; golf is a sport that is very-much individual-based. There are no large groups of players in close quarters, such as a locker room, that need to be tested at a huge rate. Most golfers tend to be introverted anyhow, and adding that being outside and at a distance, seemed like a perfect template for giving people what they desired. Live sports.

Just throwing a bunch of no-name, or even big-name golfers wouldn’t cut it though. To make an impression on the rest of the country and world that weren’t golf fans, they needed to add some spice to it. Namely, famous names from other sports.

With that, The Match in it’s current-form was born.

2018 began the idea, COVID made it what it was

2018 saw the first-official “The Match” showdown. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were paired together, and it was hyped in the golf world as an almost, Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. While there is no doubt that Tiger and Phil didn’t grab beers after a round, the golf-media seemed to play-up their “rivalry” to almost comedic proportions.

The folks at TNT knew that watching two-star golfers go head-to-head was interesting to just that group of hardcore fans, it needed more juice for the rest of the world. So they called Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to pair them with Tiger and Phil. Each golfer played with an HoF quarterback.

Imagine your father or uncle playing a pro-am tournament. The cringe was incredible. The forced “rivalry” only made it worse.

After that 2020 edition, the rest of us have been forced to endure four-more versions of this. Each one, almost insulting the viewer more and more.

What do we, as sports-bettors do when we need to make something that’s utterly-unwatchable, interesting? We throw coin at it.

As of Thursday evening, the betting lines are as follows:

Thomas/Spieth: -125

Tiger/Rory: +105

Rory played pretty well to end the season. Tiger, well…yeah. The fact he can use a cart will no doubt help his game. Walking, as he’s stated, is the main obstacle for him returning to regular tournaments.

As for Thomas, he’s always been either on a burner or a cold-streak. Finding his temperature can be difficult at times. Spieth however…

If they can find a way to reanimate the corpse of Ed Dudley to putt for him, it would make the difference more than likely.

I feel like Rory can be more consistent and carry Tiger for much of the round. Tiger only needs to make a few classic approach shots and Rory can take the rest of the slack.

I’m going to take Rory/Tiger at +105.

While these next lines aren’t on the board with any book I’m aware of, I’d love for this to show up:

Phil Mickelson betting on Thomas/Spieth, while suffering massive heartburn from curry: -150

I’d take action on:

Phil receiving a call from the IRS and/or the SEC at -175 too.

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About The Author
Brian Sudelis