Sports fans came away disappointed Tuesday night if they were hoping for insight into Aaron Rodgers’s holdout with the Packers, Tom Brady’s career plans, or Bryson DeChambeau’s sudden split with his caddie last week.
But Capital One’s The Match, featuring that trio and Phil Mickelson, still offered plenty of entertainment for a Tuesday night in July. It featured several great golf shots, enjoyable banter among four of the most popular athletes on the planet, stunning mountain views, and shots of bears, coyotes, and mountain goats at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Mont.
Rodgers and DeChambeau pulled away from Brady and Mickelson on the back nine, winning 3 and 2. Brady started the day with a few impressive shots — including driving the green on No. 3, a 392-yard par-4 — but he couldn’t keep the ball in bounds for most of the day and was outplayed by Rodgers, who hit several outstanding shots and sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to win the match.
“Phil’s 2-0 without me and 0-2 with me, so I feel like I have a lot of work to do on my golf game,” Brady said.
Brady’s reaction after missing the putt 😅 pic.twitter.com/jEx2YKZldR— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 7, 2021
The top takeaways from The Match, which benefited two charities (Feeding America and My Brother’s Keeper) and was broadcast by TNT:
▪ There was very little talk about the participants’ real jobs. Rodgers, who has been living in Hawaii all offseason and skipped the Packers’ minicamp, was asked on the 11th hole if he plans to play for the Packers this fall.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see, won’t we?”
Brady, entering his 22nd NFL season, didn’t talk about how many more years he wants to play, or his offseason knee surgery, or his departure from New England. He did talk about the Super Bowl LI win over the Falcons, however.
“Even for me, every time it’s on, I got to sit down and watch it. ‘Did that really happen?’ ” Brady said. “I’ve been in some great ones. That one is obviously second to none.”
DeChambeau didn’t address the surprising decision last week to part ways with his caddie the night before the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Even Larry Fitzgerald, on hand as a studio commentator, kept the muzzle on. Fitzgerald, still unsigned and seemingly unwanted by the Cardinals, didn’t address whether he wants to play in 2021.
Rodgers has nerves of steel 🥶— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 7, 2021
He and DeChambeau are 3 up with 6 holes to play.
▪ There were plenty of bombs at Moonlight Basin, which averages 7,000 feet of elevation. Brady and DeChambeau both hit their drives within 10 feet on No. 3, the 392-yard par-4.
On No. 8, a downhill par-5 that measured 777 yards for the pros and 677 yards for the quarterbacks, DeChambeau crushed his drive 480 yards, while Rodgers went 438 yards and Mickelson felt “defeated” at 390 yards. The broadcast said Brady hit his “300-plus” yards, but it was just an estimate, as his shot went out of bounds. DeChambeau hit a second shot to see if he could crack 500 yards, but hooked it into the woods.
▪ Brady got off to a hot start, hitting a nice approach on No. 1, a great tee shot on No. 3, and sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 7. But Brady hooked several of his tee shots into the woods and couldn’t contain his frustration. He slammed his iron into the turf after a misjudged approach shot on 11, and screamed loudly after missing a putt on 14.
In Brady’s defense, the course looked impossible, with significant drops in elevation, several blind shots, thin air, and thick woods. Each golfer hit several balls out of bounds, and even the pros had trouble gauging distance.
▪ Brady chose a Patriotic outfit for the event — a red TB12 hat, white golf shirt, and blue pants. He also played with Titleist balls that had the Roman numerals of his seven Super Bowls printed on the side.
▪ Rodgers definitely has some game. He hit several low bullets off the tee, and, in one stretch, his team used his tee shot on six of seven holes. On the par-3s, Rodgers was the only one to land on the green on No. 2, and he put his tee shot within 6 feet on No. 6. Rodgers also showed a nice sand game, and sank several midrange birdie putts, including the match-winner.
▪ Celebrity phone-ins included former President Obama, Wayne Gretzky, Baker Mayfield, and Rob Gronkowski, who called in from his nephew’s baseball game.
Gronk ribbed Brady for missing the offseason program following knee surgery, and joked, “I recruited Tom to Tampa. He didn’t recruit me.”
Brady responded that “it was a team decision. How could I go somewhere and not bring the greatest tight end in NFL history?”
▪ Mickelson and DeChambeau gave plenty of inside golf talk — “Can you imagine being in the car with these two guys on a long trip?” commentator Charles Barkley quipped — but it was disappointing not to hear Brady and Rodgers do the same with football. It would have been great to hear the two quarterbacks talk a little shop — how they handle certain blitzes, their favorite moments, etc.
▪ Not the most impressive broadcast for TNT. It rarely provided basic information — the length of drives, the distance of approach shots and putts, club used, etc. For a match at high elevation featuring big hitters, not having this kind of info was a big letdown. Also, the camera people consistently lost sight of the ball. The broadcast was riddled with technical gaffes. And everyone — the athletes, the hosts, the call-ins — was constantly talking over each other.
Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com.