After as many as 6.3 million viewers tuned into “The Match” last weekend, Phil Mickelson and the event’s producer both are encouraged and believe the competition could turn into an annual charity match, with new participants each year.
The 2020 event raised $20 million for coronavirus relief, and Mickelson told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times that this year’s precarious version of “The Match,” which included a socially distanced broadcast and intimate moments with golf cart cameras and mic’d up players, gave him optimism about making it a more consistent treat for golf fans. In 2018, “The Match” featured only Mickelson and Tiger Woods, but producer Bryan Zuriff said the natural rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning was key to this year’s event’s success.
“I don’t know what specifically it will look like but it would be a competition while also being entertaining and getting the right mixture of individuals to have their personalities come out the way Peyton and Tom shined in this last one,” Mickelson told the LA Times. “They were humanized with their golf game yet they were competitive and they were funny and entertaining. They let their sense of humor come out. It’s about finding the right mix of those competitors and I don’t think we could get two better guys than who we had in Peyton and Tom.”
Mickelson hopes they can continue to get different types of celebrities and athletes involved going forward. While Zuriff, the producer, admitted Steph Curry was part of the initial plan for the 2020 event until Manning came up, Mickelson sees Tony Romo, Patrick Mahomes, or even Michael Jordan being in play. All bets are off on the ratings if Jordan plays, but if the production schedule of The Last Dance is any evidence, it may take a while to convince him.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 2021 version (or is it too late to squeeze another one before the end of this year?) include Hollywood celebrities as well. Among the guys on Mickelson’s mind are Larry David and Bill Murray, who would be a delight.
Other pro golfers could come on as well, though Mickelson admitted that they need to be entertaining people for the event to work. Still, Brooks Koepka or Justin Thomas would be perfectly fine, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if future editions of “The Match” were blown out to include six or eight people.
No matter what it looks like, the powers that be seem determined to keep putting on “The Match” going forward, and that’s a treat for all of us.