Tiger, Phil and pals set to turn it loose

By Wes Reynolds  (Point Spread Weekly) 

May 23, 2020 05:09 PM

Professional golf returned Sunday with the “Driving Relief” event. Rory McIlroy/Dustin Johnson bested Rickie Fowler/Matthew Wolff at the Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. Thanks to McIlroy’s wedge coming closest to the pin in extra holes, his team won 11 skins for $1.85 million versus Fowler/Wolff’s seven skins totaling $1.15 million. TaylorMade added $450,000 from two long-drive contests, both won by Wolff, and Farmers Insurance added $1 million along with $1.05 million raised from viewer donations during the NBC telecast. A total of $5.5 million was raised for McIlroy/Johnson’s charity, the American Nurses Foundation, and the CDC Foundation, represented by Fowler/Wolff.

Another golf event benefiting COVID-19 efforts takes place Sunday with “The Match: Champions For Charity.” Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., will host the match between Tiger Woods/Peyton Manning and Phil Mickelson/Tom Brady. The front nine will be best ball and the back nine alternate shot. Other challenges during the match will raise additional funds. Woods/Manning were opened as -150 favorites this month at Westgate Superbook USA by Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk management and senior golf oddsmaker. Woods/Manning are now -200 with the takeback at +175 on Mickelson/Brady. Woods was also a -200 favorite for “The Match” in November 2018 at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but Mickelson pulled a mild upset on the fourth extra hole to win the $9 million winner-take-all showdown.

Numerous props were released Monday at Westgate, including but not limited to the following:

First Team To Go 1 Up:

Mickelson/Brady +110

Woods/Manning -130

Which Team Will Lead After 9 Holes:

Mickelson/Brady +140

Woods/Manning -160

Will Either Team Win 3 Straight Holes:

Yes + 500

No -700

Will There Be Extra Holes:

Yes + 400

No -500

Will Either Team Make An Eagle:

Yes +175

No -200

One should anticipate that the yes prices will draw the bulk of the wagering, especially the extra holes prop, considering last weekend’s match went extra time as did the 2018 match. Other props include results for all 18 holes and individual props for each player to make or miss the fairway on the opening hole.

The event

The match will be televised live at 3 p.m. ET Sunday across all Turner Sports platforms, including TNT, TBS, truTV and HLN, with prematch coverage at 2 p.m. ET on the Bleacher Report app. Brian Anderson, best known as the TV voice of the Milwaukee Brewers, will serve as host with 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman and Charles Barkley as analysts. Amanda Balionis and current world No. 4 Justin Thomas will be on-course reporters. Warner Media and the four players are making a minimum $10 million combined donation to various relief efforts. Fundraising associated with the match will support national and local beneficiaries to help many communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations will be made to organizations working across multiple areas of need, including DirectRelief.org, which equips health workers on the front lines with medical supplies; the American Red Cross, which is investing in blood-treatment options and providing regional support to communities; Save Small Business, a grant-making initiative to help small-business employers who are struggling due to the pandemic; and the ALL IN Challenge, an initiative that provides food to those in need. In partnership with the ALL IN Challenge, all four players will have donated custom experiences to raise millions. Viewers can enter a raffle during the telecast for those featuring Woods and Mickelson. Excel Sports Management, which represents Woods and Manning, and Lagardere Sports, which represents Mickelson, are the tournament organizers.

The course 

Medalist Golf Club is in Hobe Sound, Fla., about 15 miles north of West Palm Beach. The course was designed in 1995 in a collaboration between Pete Dye and Greg Norman. Medalist is a fairly difficult par-72, 7,157-yard layout, and it’s over 7,500 yards from the “Tiger tees.” It’s even more difficult to be a member there, as it requires a $110,000 initiation fee. Numerous PGA Tour players are members, including Brooks Koepka, Woods, McIlroy, Johnson and Fowler. Manning and Brady have played Medalist. On a recent online meeting hosted on Bleacher Report by Ernie Johnson of Turner Sports, Brady said he shot 106 the last time he played here. Manning said he had played this track with Woods. “I’ve played Medalist before with Tiger, and an old teammate of mine, Brandon Stokley, was with me, and on the 18th hole, I leaned over to Stokley and asked if I could borrow a ball,” said Manning. “I was out of balls by the time I got to 18. And (Stokley) said all he had was a yellow one left. I was like, ‘I cannot play a yellow ball in front of Tiger Woods.’ So we’re digging in the marsh trying to find one more ball so I could finish the hole.”

The match

Woods obviously has home-course advantage as a club member. Mickelson recently indicated he plans to join Michael Jordan’s private The Grove XXIII Golf Club just south of Medalist. Brady, having just relocated to Florida to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recently joined the nearby Seminole Golf Club. All four participants have played this course, but Woods and Manning are the natural favorites considering they’ve played here together and it is one of Woods’ home courses. In addition, Manning’s golf game looks to be in better form since he is retired, while Brady is still an active player. Per the USGA’s Golf Handicap Information Network, Manning has a 6.4 handicap index. His five most recent logged scores as of late April were 83-88-82-86-84. He’s a member of Cherry Hills Country Club in suburban Denver. Meanwhile, Brady sports an 8.1 handicap index, and his five most recent logged scores as of late April were 96-86-93-83-85. Before joining Seminole, Brady played most regularly out of The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

In the 2018 exhibition, Mickelson seemed more motivated than Woods, so that could be a factor. In addition, Woods did not play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won a record eight times, and withdrew from The Players Championship, citing back tightness. The lean here would be to Woods/Manning, but I would advise waiting closer to the event before laying the near $2 chalk. Last week the underdog Fowler/Wolff saw late money, and the same could happen for Mickelson/Brady. The current price of +175 on Mickelson/Brady is likely to shorten, so if you like the underdogs, who seem more motivated based on their social media platforms, bet them now.

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Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson
© Imagn
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