There’s some big news this week–Phil Mickelson has officially made his Champions Tour debut! Phil became eligible when he turned 50 back in June, but decided to maintain his regular tour schedule until now. Although he has not played to the high standard he expects of himself lately, Phil has certainly been competitive on the regular tour with two top 5 finishes this season, and feels that if he can stay healthy there’s no reason he shouldn’t stick around and add a few more to the 44 tour wins he’s already racked up. Lefty is unique in that not only has he been able to maintain his distance off the tee, he’s actually hitting it longer than ever (he calls it “dropping bombs”.) Unfortunately, the additional distance has thus far not produced the result he’s been looking for, as Mickelson’s PGA Tour season ended last week with missed cut at the Northern Trust (a few too many wayward bombs and not enough makeable putts finding the bottom of the hole). The good news is that now we get to see Phil tee it up with old foes like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Freddie Couples and Retief Goosen (who can all still get it out there pretty good). And what does Phil do right out of the box at the Charles Schwab Series Tournament at Ozarks National? He fires a 61 in the first round and follows that up with a 64 in the second round for 4 shot lead. Mickelson’s presence will provide a huge boost to the Champions Tour, which already boasted a group of legendary stars including John Daly, Steve Sticker, Colin Montgomery, and of course the ageless two-time Masters champ—Bernhard Langer.
For all the avid golf fans who are down in the dumps about the PGA Tour events that have been cancelled in the past few months, there’s some really good news. It has just been announced that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning will be teeing it up for a team match in May. The event is to take place on Memorial Day weekend in Florida, and will be pitting Woods and Manning against Mickelson and Brady, with the proceeds going to COVID-19 relief. Woods and Manning are already considered the betting favorites since Manning is a 6 handicap and Brady is an 8. Of course, we should not speak too soon, considering the rumors that Tiger’s back issues were flaring up again earlier this year (although Tiger insists that he is healthy) and Phil seems to thrive in these relaxed match-play settings, winning big chunks of change from other pros during practice rounds. Keep in mind too that Tom Brady is a 6-time Super Bowl champion, so there is no doubt he will bring some of that competitive, winning spirit to the match.
What can we expect?
The format has yet to be announced, but there has been some chatter about it being best ball—we’ll have to wait and see. Unlike the previous match between Woods and Mickelson back in 2018, which was a PPV event, this one will be broadcast live on regular television (TNT) so everybody will have the opportunity to watch 4 legends battle it out on the course. The players will practice social distancing throughout the event, and no spectators will be allowed to attend. No word on whether they will be masked, but doubtful since there is no reason to get that close on the golf course. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a truly exciting match. And with no golf to watch for a month and a half, could there possibly be a better way to bring back golf than a match between Phil and Tiger—not to mention the fun of seeing Tom Brady and Peyton Manning duke it out. What can we expect? I think it’s safe to say it will be a hard-fought battle, considering none of the 4 has a reputation for losing—particularly on a big stage. Tiger may have some extra incentive to even the score after his loss to Phil in 2018, but you can be sure that nothing would make Phil happier than beating Tiger again (outside of a U.S. open win in the fall perhaps). Like Woods and Mickelson, Brady and Manning were long-time rivals at the top of their game. While this match-up won’t take place on the gridiron, you can certainly expect to see some of the fire that propelled them both to super bowl victories. Personally, my money is on Mickelson and Brady. Either way, it’s exactly what we need to take our minds away from the troubles of the last few months, remind us that it won’t last forever, and there will be good days ahead. Something tells me that this is going to be special, so make sure you mark your calendar.