⛳️ The Match: How The $10M Event Started

Capital One's The Match has announced its lineup for this year's match: Phil Mickelson & Tom Brady vs. Bryson DeChambeau & Aaron Rodgers.

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Just days after winning the PGA Championship, becoming the oldest major champion in history at 50 years old, Phil Mickelson didn’t waste time scheduling his next high-profile match.

As part of “Capital One’s The Match” series, six-time major champion Phil Mickelson will team up with seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady to take on Bryson DeChambeau and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Here are the details:

  • The event will be held on July 6th.

  • TNT will televise the event at 5 pm ET.

  • The match will be played at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana.

The match will be sponsored by Capital One again, include charitable donations to Feeding America, and follow a modified alternate shot format — meaning they will likely have each player hit a drive, pick the best shot, and alternate until the hole is finished.

While younger sports fans might see “Capital One’s The Match” series as an innovative new concept within sports — pitting celebrity golfers & athletes against each other for cash prizes — it’s actually a modified concept from a decade prior.

From 1983 to 2008, there was an unofficial-money event on the PGA Tour called “The Skins Game.” It would take place in November or December each year after the PGA Tour season ended, and four golfers would compete against each other to win individual holes or “skins” in a match play format.

Here’s how it worked: Each hole on the course was assigned a different monetary value, typically $25,000 for the first few holes and $200,000 for the final hole. Whichever golfer won the hole, won the money. If two players posted the same score on a hole, the money would carry over to the next hole — increasing the cash prize.

The tournament was played every year for nearly two decades at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, California, and featured sponsors like ConAgra Foods, Merrill Lynch, and LG.

The interesting part? Fred Couples was given the nickname “Mr. Skins” after winning almost $4.5 million in 11 appearances. But after LG pulled its sponsorship just months before the tournament in 2009, the event was canceled and hasn’t been played since.

But in 2017, Hollywood agent Jack Whigham and film/TV producer Bryan Zuriff decided to attempt to revive the event.

Their vision was simple: To “play the way a lot of us play with our buddies on the weekends. You know, where you bet on everything and talk smack and basically have this continually running dialogue of, pardon the expression, giving each other shit."

Next thing you know, Capital One’s The Match was born.

With a $9 million purse and co-ownership entity rights, they had buy-in from Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods within months. They offered the media rights to NBC, CBS, and ESPN, but all of them declined. Eventually, they struck a deal with AT&T, which agreed to distribute the content through its large portfolio of media properties and platforms.

Each player pledged to donate a portion of the purse to charity if they won, side bets were placed, and the event teed off in November 2018 at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas.

Along with some entertaining trash talk and $400,000 in side bets, Phil Mickelson won the $9 million purse in a playoff. There were technical difficulties with Pay-Per-View payments, which resulted in the match being streamed for free. But still, Turner Broadcasting president David Levy said that the event “surpassed expectations across all of our platforms.”

Subsequent matches have been held with celebrity athletes like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Stephen Curry, and now, the fourth event will see Bryson DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers get involved in Big Sky, Montana.

In the end, the continued success of this event comes down to one simple reason.

Sporting events in today’s society continue to straddle the line of entertainment vs. athleticism — think Jake Paul as a boxer — but Capital One’s The Match has perfected the unique combination of skilled play, entertaining trash talk, and monetary implications, ultimately producing a one-of-a-kind event.

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Bryson DeChambeau are all excellent golfers, while Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers are good enough. But by providing fans with special access, the tournament has created a highly engaged audience.

We’ll see how the next event goes — viewership-wise — but with Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Bryson DeChambeau already building up drama through entertaining Twitter posts, don’t be surprised if it’s another success.

I hope you all have a great Thursday. I’ll talk to everyone tomorrow.

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