The Best Golf Match Ever?
The rain continued throughout the day, but I didn’t care. There were no outdoor hikes planned, no bike rides with poor fitting masks, and no social distance BBQs through the fencing of my backyard.
For most, the combination of bad weather and the restrictions due to quarantine would make a Sunday over Memorial Day weekend feel like Ground Hog Day instead. Another day of laundry, puzzles, and Netflix.
But this day was different.
On Sunday at 1pm, I curled up on my favorite chair and watched five straight hours of The Match – Champions for Charity, a live charity golf match that featured Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning versus Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. And it would not disappoint.
Manning would drain a long birdie putt early in the match as the teams traded blows. Brady would follow by knocking in a wedge shot from about 110 yards out. Mickelson would drive the green on a par four by crushing one over the trees. And Tiger would outplay everyone to help his team win on the final hole of regulation. The event would raise over $20 million for COVID-19 relief and celebrities Russell Wilson, JJ Watt, Alex Rodriguez, Charles Barkley, and more would join in to show their support and give to the cause. The production was arguably the best live sporting event witnessed since the sporting world shut down.
Or was it?
Looking back at the event, the Florida rain came down so hard that it caused technical difficulties on the player’s microphones, causing awkward delays. The amateur quarterbacks showed they belong on the football field as they hit shot after shot into the trees. And Tom Brady split the seam in his shorts and had to change into his warmups somewhere on the front nine. That is when I realized that like the forbidden fruit, the live sporting event was only great because I had been forced to live without it for so long.
Sadly – Here are the top live sporting events of the quarantine.
- The NFL Draft – Timing is everything, and the NFL Draft came at a time in which there had been no live sports of any kind on television. The Draft gave us a sense of hope, a chance to cheer, and a small return to normality. Even if just for three days.
- The Match – Champions for Charity – If these were normal times and this were a pay-per-view event, I probably would have passed. But $20 million raised, five hours of entertainment, and the joy of seeing Tom Brady struggle on the golf course makes this event number two in my book.
- The NBA H-O-R-S-E Tournament – Obviously, the list of live sporting events starts to fade fast as my third favorite consisted of NBA stars playing a game of backyard H-O-R-S-E in their million dollars mansions. Nothing says quarantine sports like Chauncey Billups missing a 15-foot bank shot with a foot on the grass.
- Korean Baseball League – The thought of baseball returning gave me hope for the MLB as I tuned in to watch the Samsung Lions and Hanwha Eagles of the KBO (Korea Baseball Organization). But with players with masks on, piped in fan noise, and cardboard cutouts of fake fans behind home plate, I am not quite ready for nine-innings.
- UFC Fighting – I am not a UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) guy, but I had to watch when ESPN showed some live undercard fights before a pay-per-view event in early May. UFC President Dana White may have struck out when he tried to circumvent the COVID-19 restrictions by planning events on Native American tribal land or renting a private island, but Jacksonville, Florida had no issues. Still trying to figure out how taking a walk around the neighborhood requires a mask, six-feet distancing, and thorough handwashing, while UFC allows elbows to the face, sweat, and blood, with little to no hand sanitizer.
- NASCAR Coca Cola 600 – Car racing is the perfect sport for the quarantine era. If you are like me, you only turn it on when nothing else is on, you’re oblivious to any fans, you’re slightly comforted by the background noise of cars zooming by, and you only pay attention to final laps and crashes.
- ESPN Madden NFL 20 Challenge – I am not sure that video games should be considered live sporting events. But I had Travis Kelse, DeAndre Hopkins, and Snoop Dogg playing Madden in a tight one over the ACL (American Cornhole League) and their Cornhole Mania 2020.
Please note that twice during the quarantine era I have mentioned cornhole in my writing with the intent of adding humor to a solemn situation. The fact that cornhole finished in my top eight – is no longer a laughing matter.
Images via vgr.com, cbssports.com, fightstate.com, wsj.com, pgatour.com, al.com, cincinnatibengals.com, fansided.com