The Match: How to Bet Phil and Brady vs. Bryson and Rodgers
Coming out of the Fourth of July weekend we'll get to watch four incredibly special athletes duke it out in Big Sky, Montana. In a modified alternate shot format, the teams will tee it up at the Reserve Course at Moonlight Basin. Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady will take on Bryson DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers on the 8000(!)-yard par 72. The yardage is eye-popping, none more so than the 777-yard par 5 17th, but the course is at 7,500 feet elevation and many of the longer holes play sharply downhill.
This will be a showcase for the ages for DeChambeau, who may actually hit a drive over 500 yards this week. The 2016 Jack Nicklaus design features massive, wide open fairways and greens, and incredible views of the mountain ranges that will make this essentially a tourism advertisement for Big Sky. The course will be something to marvel at, but now to the real question: Who's going to win?
DeChambeau and Rodgers are currently favored on FanDuel Sportsbook, available at -192 compared to Mickelson and Brady at +146. Let's break down the teams and see where we land.
The Old Guys
Let's rewind to the middle of May. A Hall of Fame career several times over already in the bag, Mickelson had just one win and four other top-20 finishes since winning the inaugural cash grab/technical difficulty fiasco that was The Match: Tiger vs. Phil in November 2018. He'd just been gifted an exemption into the U.S. Open to get one last crack at the career Grand Slam before schedule and form would make it an uphill battle to ever again qualify for the lone major he's yet to collect.
Earlier in the season, he had dropped out of the top 100 in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time since -- seriously -- 1993. He seemed to have mostly accepted his fate, relegated to cleaning up on the Champions Tour, cracking jokes on Twitter, and shilling nutritional supplement coffee.
But then there he stood by the Atlantic Ocean, hands raised in triumph having just won the PGA Championship, and all of a sudden he was back in the mix for a Ryder Cup spot and enjoying the goodwill of the entire golf world.
Now on to Brady, who joined Mickelson in the throes of the pandemic for the team event officially dubbed The Match: Champions for Charity last May. It was an eventful day for Brady, who split his pants and chipped in for an eagle while trash-talking Charles Barkley, but the pair ultimately fell to Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning.
Coming off his final season as a member of the New England Patriots, Brady was also at a crossroads in his career. About to turn 43 and having fallen out with coach Bill Belichick, Brady was set to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for what would surely be the footnote to his G.O.A.T. resume, the year he found out just how hard things are outside of Foxborough and quietly retired to sell nutritional supplements of his own.
Instead, Brady managed his way through the regular season before showing what makes him the greatest to ever do it and winning his seventh Super Bowl and fifth Super Bowl MVP.
The Big Guns
DeChambeau was considered one of the top golf prospects when he turned pro in 2016, having won both the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Championship while in college at Southern Methodist University. He majored in physics and was known for embracing analytics and data-based decision-making in every aspect of his golf game. Since then, his data has led him to bulk up and emphasize driving distance as the primary skill to master, and his work has made him a major champion and the longest-hitting player on Tour.
He is one of the top golfers in the world, but his freak-show style is seen by some to have corrupted the game's purity, and his sponsor-plugging insistence, slow play, and zealous adherence to his own methods have made him a polarizing figure. He has a "beef" with Brooks Koepka at the moment that gets more headlines than actual golf, and right before the start of the Rocket Mortgage Classic yesterday, he and his caddy parted ways.
DeChambeau's teammate is Rodgers, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. After the last few years of decision-making with the Green Bay Packers, he is probably thrilled to be paired up with an analytics-based partner. Rodgers is reportedly on the outs with the Packers and seems to have spent more time this offseason on vacation or hosting Jeopardy than practicing either football or golf.
So on the one hand, we have Mickelson and Brady with experience playing together, having each recently reached the pinnacle of their sport despite advanced age and plenty of doubters. On the other we have two of the most talented athletes at the top of their sports but surrounded by controversy.
DeChambeau is clearly superior to Phil at this point, but Mickelson is the savvier and cooler-headed golfer who knows the ropes of these made-for-TV events. And no one is more confident than Brady, who can remind Rodgers at every turn that it took him just one season in the NFC to match the number of times in Rodgers' career that he's won the conference.
We'll grab the underdog and put our cash behind Mickelson and Brady (+146).