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PGA Tour exhibition spotlights stars, but will they shine?

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady
Peyton Manning (left) and Tom Brady will add some NFL star power to Sunday’s four-ball match to raise money for coronavirus relief. Manning will team with longtime pro-am partner Tiger Woods against Brady and Phil Mickelson.

Peyton Manning, who will team with Tiger Woods against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, holds the key (and the needle) to pump some life into this match, John Hawkins contends, but Mike Purkey expects the NFL ringers to do little more than get in the way

Hawk & Purk Podcast Hero Article

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the weekly Hawk & Purk podcast on MorningRead.com, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

Will Tom Brady and Peyton Manning help or hurt Sunday’s charity match featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson?

Hawk’s take: How could it possibly be any worse than the last one? Between TNT’s amateurish presentation and the complete lack of jocularity from Woods and Mickelson, the November 2018 edition was a resounding bust. It may not get much better this time around, but the inclusion of the two NFL icons at least gives this version a chance to produce some entertaining banter.

Quality golf? That would be nice, but let’s not get carried away. This is the ultimate hit-and-giggle. The bar for success rarely has been set lower.

Manning’s aw-shucks demeanor and propensity for playful needling makes him the key. Brady always has been guarded and image-conscious in the public eye, which is no sin, but the man seems almost allergic to lighthearted competitive fare. Perhaps Mickelson and Manning, who are on opposing sides, can engage in some spirited verbal sparring and heighten viewer appeal, but if those jabs don’t look, feel and sound natural, most people won’t buy in.

The bad news is that TNT has retained the rights, making this the only golf the network will televise all year. My displeasure with its coverage makes me feel like a crabby old man, but I don’t want to waste five hours on a holiday weekend watching garbage. Hopefully, the only trash I’ll encounter Sunday will be found in the two cans I roll to the bottom of my driveway that evening.

With Manning in the mix, I think that’s a decent possibility.

Purk’s take: I totally get why the organizers of this charity match wanted to include Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. It’s a TV thing. They’re hoping that the star power generated by two of the best QBs in history will draw non-golf viewers, thereby giving the ratings a needed – and necessary – jolt.

But that’s a double-edged sword. Real golfers really don’t care how well or badly Brady and Manning play. Sure, it might be fun if the football players put their pro partners in some nasty places in the modified alternate-shot format on the back nine. Woods and Mickelson might respond with a needle or an eye-roll or two – reminiscent of when they were partners at the Ryder Cup in 2004.

Mostly, however, Brady and Manning will do nothing more than get in the way. No matter how much they prepare, nerves will take over and wreak havoc on their fragile golf games in front of the world. The result will be foul balls and missed 3-footers, which will make the whole thing look like a Wednesday pro-am.

And if they clam up and take this too seriously, nobody will have any fun. Especially those who take the time to watch.

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