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Phil Mickelson wants to make the ‘Match’ with Tiger Woods an annual event

Phil Mickelson was part coach and part partner for Tom Brady in the Match: Champions For Charity. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images for the Match)
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These times may be filled with uncertainty, but at least one fun sports thing has emerged during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

More celebrity golf lies ahead, given the big success of Sunday’s the Match: Champions for Charity featuring Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning facing off against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. The made-for-TV event, which raised $20 million for relief efforts, was the most watched golf event in cable television history with an audience that peaked at 6.3 million.

Mickelson is ready to do it again.

“What if Tiger and I were to team up and take on two younger players, or what if we were to team up with younger players and have it be a real high-level golf competition?” Mickelson told the Los Angeles Times. “I think there’s a market for that. But you have to have some personality in there, too, so a guy like Justin Thomas showed how funny he is, and he would add a lot to an event like that.”

Thomas was a big hit on the broadcast, shown across Turner platforms. So was Charles Barkley, whose banter with the golfers, who wore live mics, was hilarious and seemed to spark a back-nine rally by Mickelson and Brady, who ended up losing by a hole to Woods and Manning (not that anyone really cared).

“I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents, and have great personalities,” Mickelson said. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”

The success of the match dwarfed the first such event, in which Mickelson beat Woods in sudden death, and the Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports that those two originally signed to play in three exhibition matches, with the next one in 12 to 18 months. Either of them could pull out, but Mickelson, who turns 50 in June, sees it as an annual event and a fundraiser for charity. Bryan Zuriff, a TV and film producer who pitched the idea of the matches to Mickelson, told the Times that he likes “this event for the day after Thanksgiving.” The first match between Mickelson and Woods took place over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018.

Perspective: No crowds meant you could hear the players at the Match II, and some of it was revealing

The key, as the second match taught everyone, is getting the right mix of players. Sunday’s match featured entertaining trash talk and unexpected events, such as Brady becoming a social media darling when his pants split.

“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 said. “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. Going forward that will be the challenge. How do we improve on that?”

Jordan would be one delicious possibility, given his proclivity for gambling on the course and his cutthroat, win-at-all-costs approach. Curry, who loves the game, has sponsored Howard University’s team, played several times with former president Barack Obama and put together a golf reality show for ABC. In his pro golf debut in 2017, Curry missed the cut. Romo isn’t going to quit his day job, either. He has tried — and failed — a number of times to make the cut at a PGA Tour event.