News & Opinion

‘The Match’ remake promises plenty of action

Proposition bets give Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson sequel a better-than-even chance of outperforming the original snoozefest

These are boring times in sports. They’re even more boring if you’re a professional gambler. Other than Russian table tennis and Nigerian soccer, there aren’t a lot of wagering options.

Here’s something to shake you out of your doldrums. I received a list of proposition-bet odds from BetOnline for The Match: Champions for Charity. That’s the rematch between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, which is expected to be played in May at a site to be determined and will benefit coronavirus-relief efforts.

Tiger Woods Peyton Manning
Oddsmakers have listed Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning, frequent pro-am partners, as favorites to win The Match: Champions for Charity.

But because the first match, which paid Mickelson $9 million, was a total snoozefest, they’re trying to spice this one up by adding two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks: the retired Peyton Manning as Woods’ partner and Tom Brady to team with Mickelson.

I don’t see how adding two jocks who can’t play dead at golf is going to add to the entertainment value. Manning can be funny on “Saturday Night Live” or in commercials when he has a script, but I don’t anticipate much in the way of ad-libs from him during the match. Brady rarely says anything interesting unless it’s not true.

Meanwhile, NBC announced Monday that it will show TaylorMade Driving Relief, a $3 million charity match pitting Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff at South Florida’s famed Seminole Golf Club on May 17. It’s not quite as glitzy as Woods-Mickelson, but McIlroy-Johnson are 2-1 betting favorites.

Anyway, here are some of BetOnline’s most interesting propositions on “The Match”:

Odds to win: Woods-Manning -225; Mickelson-Brady +195. (What the numbers mean: a $2.25 wager on Woods-Manning would win $1; a $1 bet on Mickelson-Brady would win $1.95. Woods-Manning therefore is favored by more than a 2-1 ratio.)

It makes sense that Woods and Manning are prohibitive favorites. Woods is a lock to play his way onto the Ryder Cup team, and Mickelson played so poorly that he took his name out of consideration. The amateurs are wildcards, but it’s pretty simple: If Woods is healthy, he’s got more game than Mickelson.

Number of commercials Manning is in during broadcast: The over-under is 1½. Over +140; Under -180. This sounds like a sucker bet. Once this TV package is finalized and the commercial time is sold, the number of Nationwide/Manning commercials will be known. The smart money will know, and that’s not us. Avoid this bet.

Will Tiger wear a red shirt? Odds: Yes -600; No +350. First question: Are they playing on a Sunday? We don’t know yet. Because this is supposedly a friendly match, will Woods actually go all out with the red shirt/black slacks combo for intimidation factor? I could see him showcasing bright new patterns of Nike’s latest clothes instead of red.

How many times will Woods twirl his club? Over-under is 2½. Over -150; Under +110. If Woods doesn’t hit at least three good twirl-worthy shots, this isn’t going to be much of a show. I’ll take over all day.

Odds of Mickelson wearing a visor versus a hat: Hat +100; Visor -140. Six weeks shy of 50, Lefty loves showing off his long locks and pretending to be young, so the visor is the obvious vanity play. Could some sponsor buy a one-time Mickelson hat sponsorship for the show? Possibly.

First participant to have a football highlight shown on telecast: Manning -130; Brady -110. The fact that Brady is hot news after bolting from the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers makes it more likely that we’ll get a Brady highlight first. Manning highlights, in TV time, are now as relevant as Sammy Baugh highlights.

Total curse words said by Tiger and Phil: Over-under, 5½. Over +140; Under -180. These guys will be miked, and they know it, unlike in tournament golf when there are microphones positioned nearby and they forget about them. They will be on their best behavior because this is essentially a big commercial. Take the under. There should be an option for no curse words. That said, exactly what counts as a curse word? Dangnabbit?

Will any player say “audible”?: Yes +135; No -175. It’s team play and strategy here, so I can see a golfer stepping in behind his partner’s putt and saying, “Let’s call an audible here. This putt is right-center, so don’t hit it outside the hole.” Or, changing a club on a shot, say, from 7-iron to 8-iron, in an exchange with a caddie.

Will any player say “deflate”?: Yes +120; No -175. Match play gets personal. I can see Woods and Manning saving this for the back nine if and when they think they can rattle Brady before a shot. Then again, that’s opening a big door that could lead to other touchy rebuttal phrases such as hydrant, Rachel, insider trading, HGH and female trainer. (For further details, consult Mr. Google.) It might be wiser for all concerned to lay off.

Will any player mention Gronk?: Yes -225; No +160. For all we know, Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, Brady’s towering tight-end teammate with New England who came out of retirement to join Brady with the Bucs, might caddie for his quarterback. It’s not likely; I’m just throwing the possibility out there. Over five hours on a golf course, how does Gronk’s name not get mentioned? “Yes” is the play.

Will any player say “Omaha”?: Yes +215; No -325. “Omaha” was the odd word Manning used when he called audibles at the line of scrimmage for the Denver Broncos. That word was trendy for a while, just like Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s brief use of “Dilly dilly!” but now it’s in the discarded pile of extinct pop-culture phrases that includes “Dy-no-mite!” and “I love you, man.” Which is why “No” is the heavy favorite.

Will a Lombardi Trophy be seen during the broadcast?: Yes -325; No +215. This is a slam dunk, pardon the mixed sports metaphor. Of course they’re going to show footage of Super Bowl award ceremonies. That’s why Manning and Brady are in this match, to attract football fans, because there aren’t enough golf fans to draw big numbers. Their Super Bowl highlights – Manning won once each with the Colts and Broncos, and Brady won six with the Patriots – are sure to include at least one trophy shot, right?

Will any player spike a football or a golf ball? Yes, football +350; No, football -600; Yes, golf ball +150; No, golf ball -200. Firing any object into the ground is bad form on a golf course. Patrick Reed isn’t playing, so … the nays have it.

Will President Donald Trump attend? Yes +900; No -3300. This is a super-cheesy made-for-TV event. The president comes with a lot of baggage, so he probably won’t be invited even though he’s a known FOT (Friend Of Tiger). That’ll give Trump’s critics a chance to complain that he should’ve shown up. It’s a win-win.

Which QB will have the longest drive on No. 1? Manning -150; Brady +110. Betting on amateur golfers is like betting on armadillos in a race. You can’t trust them not to roll over and go back into their shells … he said bitterly.

Which player makes the most birdies? Woods -130; Mickelson -110. On any given day, it’s a tossup. You’ve still got to favor Woods, though.

Will there be a hole-in-one? Yes +950; No -3500. Come on. The odds of an average chop making an ace are about 12,500-1, while the odds of a touring pro making one drop to 2,000-1. These 9.5-to-1 odds for an ace are insulting. Bet your house on “No,” and if you somehow lose, look for a vacant structure to call home.

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