Sporting events don’t come more blockbuster than this.
Dubbed ‘The Match: Champions for Charity’, Sunday’s clash will be a rematch of Woods’ televised clash with Mickelson in 2018, but this time with the added interest of two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
WarnerMedia (the parent company of CNN) has joined forces with the players to donate $10 million to local and national causes with more fundraising challenges expected throughout the day.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unimaginable tragedy and heartbreak,” said Jeff Zucker, Chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports.
“We’re hopeful this event and platform will help raise meaningful funding for Covid-19 relief, while also providing a source of brief distraction and entertainment for all sports fans.”
The US currently has 1,577,758 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 94,729 deaths, according to the latest data.
Behind closed doors
The showcase match will take place at the Medalist Golf Club in Florida, US, but will be played behind closed doors amid the pandemic.
The prestigious venue is all too familiar for Woods, who regularly practices at the course, giving the American a potential advantage ahead of the weekend.
He will partner with Manning to take on Mickelson and Brady over 18-holes — the front nine in a four-ball format and the back nine in a modified alternate shot format.
Players will not be allowed their usual caddies but will be able to ride in their own carts.
The four athletes boast an impressive 20 golf majors and eight Super Bowls between them and have enjoyed healthy rivalries with one another.
Woods and Mickelson have been two of the biggest names in men’s golf over the past two decades and were known to have a frosty relationship earlier in their competitive heyday, but that has turned into a much friendlier rivalry over time.
Woods, 44, has won a staggering 15 majors throughout his roller coaster career and is tied for the most PGA Tour events (82). Meanwhile, 49-year-old Mickelson has won 44 tour events, including five major championships.
The elder of the two may not have won as much in his career, but he does hold the bragging rights from their last $9 million match and has been quick to bring it to his rival’s attention.
“This is the trophy for ‘The Match’ I don’t know Tiger if you know what this looks like, you might have caught a glimpse, but that’s actually what the trophy looks like had you have won,” laughed Mickelson, pointing toward his trophy during a video call between all four men on Bleacher Report.
Not to be outdone, Woods hit back by donning the famous green jacket that he won at last year’s Masters.
Similarly, Brady and Manning were pitted against each other throughout their respective playing careers and the two amateur golfers have shared fighting talk in the buildup.
“I will be ready partner! I sensed fear in their eyes yesterday!!” Brady wrote on Twitter, responding to a tweet from Mickelson.
Whilst Manning retired in 2016, Brady recently joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after spending 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, winning six of the nine Super Bowls he reached.
During illustrious spells at the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, Manning won two Super Bowls and retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns and yards.
Both NFL legends are avid golfers and are relishing the chance to play with their heroes.
“I think that the ability to do good and help others is at the core of what this was all about,” said Brady.
“The fact that I get an opportunity to go play golf with three of the guys that I’ve always looked up to in sports is something that I certainly couldn’t turn down.”
‘We need sports’
NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley will be one of the guest commentators on the day and is looking forward to seeing sport return to the screen.
Professional golf has been put on hold throughout the pandemic but the PGA Tour is expected to resume behind closed doors on June 11.
“Without sports all we have to do is talk about reality. Obviously right now reality isn’t great for everybody,” Barkley told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “It’s going to be awesome. You have four of the greatest athletes in the history of sports.”
“We need sports. Are they the most important things in the world? Not even close. But the one thing they do is they take your mind off all the other [things] that are going on in the world. You just need a break.”
The clash will tee off at 3pm ET on May 24 and will be simulcast live on CNN International.