The Match has become quite the novelty staple of the Thanksgiving holiday and while I think we all wish it was more competitive this year, it was without a doubt entertaining. From the awkward cupcake jab on the first tee, to Phil and Chuck on the mic we got what we wanted from the matchup between Brooks and Bryson. Unfortunately for Bryson, Brooks put a beating on him, despite being the underdog going into the round. This storybook rivalry that’s sprouted over the last few years between them has been pretty heated at times, so much that many were worried it could effect the Ryder Cup team synergy at one point, but we didn’t really see that from them in Vegas. You could see from the first tee that Brooks came to play, he had a bit of that “killer look”, especially after Bryson opened with a playful jab. But for Bryson is seemed more about The Match, the novelty of the event, hitting bombs and the chance to be mic’d up while he’s playing, a stab at being more understood by fans and I think that’s why he got dominated. The way I see it (and I bet with my buddies this way) is for Brooks, this was personal. He came to play and wanted to shut down any doubt that Bryson could beat him. He channeled prime-Tiger, prime-Jack, and probably a little Michael Jordan and just simply put Bryson can’t turn it on like that. At least he hasn’t show that yet and to beat Brooks head-to-head when you got beef, you need that in my opinion. The guy is a four-time major winner, and knows how to compete at the highest level and not that Bryson doesn’t, I love what Bryson is doing for the game and he’s got his own major trophy, but mentally, I don’t believe he’s at Brooks’ level and it showed on Friday.
Brooks had a few good jabs at Bryson on the course, the best of which was when Brooks told Bryson his par putt was good after he’d already made birdie. That was hilarious and for anyone who plays golf, you know it’s a pretty good backhanded comment to say and Brooks nailed it. But really, Phil and Charles Barkley stole the show with the colorful commentary in the broadcast booth. There’s three moments that stick out to me as amazing content, and the sheer value of tuning into a novelty golf event like this year after year. The first was Barkley’s rant on cheating in golf and it came right on the first hole. Bryson sprayed one right into a bush, where he ended up getting free relief because of a sprinkler head, but Phil asked Chuck about pulling that ball out of the bush if he’s playing in a game, and Chuck responded with “depends if anyone’s looking!” He goes on to say “I have no problem cheating. I’m not gonna lie.” That sound bite will live forever. The second moment also comes from Chuck, when he mentions lube. Not a word you typically hear on a national broadcast, but if you’re a golfer you have definitely heard the term swing-lube in your days on the course. Chuck drops maybe the single most relatable statement for mid-handicappers across the world. He says “I have a couple cigars and have me a couple alcoholic beverages. Listen, you can’t play golf and not drink. It’s the only sport they let you drink while you are playing it. There’s a reason why: it’s the most unbeatable game in the world.” It couldn’t have been said any better. The last moment came from Phil, and relates back to the comments earlier to Brooks being a killer in competition. Phil dives into his mental game of holding Brooks off at the PGA Championship that Phil won earlier in the year at Kiawah Island. He basically says he didn’t want to poke the bear. Phil first says “When we were paired together in May, I knew that I didn’t want to antagonize him or upset him in any way because it was just gonna bring the best out in him. So I went into that day thinking, ‘Alright, I’m not going to talk a lot to him because I don’t want to think I’m trying to get in his head.'” Phil knew what Brooks was capable of and didn’t want to give him anything to feed on. Phil said he kept saying things like “great shot” and “good birdie” to keep his competitive animal at bay. Well it worked, Phil went on to win by two shots and become the oldest major winner. For now anyway, Phil expressed in a tweet recently after viewing the Tiger Woods video hitting balls that someone might have another vision of who that might be when it’s all said and done.