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#pounditTuesday, August 4, 2020

Golf

Brooks Koepka trying to chase down Rory McIlroy for world No. 1

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka is aiming to chase down Rory McIlroy for the No. 1 world golf ranking.

Koepka reached No. 1 in the world in October 2018 and held that spot for 47 weeks before losing it. McIlroy is the current No. 1, with Jon Rahm behind him, followed by Koepka. Koepka has his eyes on the spot.

“Yeah, I’ve got eyes on Rory [McIlroy]”, Koepka said Wednesday via Sky Sports. “That’s the goal, to get back to No. 1 in the world. That’s the whole point of playing is to be the best.

“If I do what I’m supposed to do, if I take care of my business, then I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t get back to that.”

Koepka hurt his knee late last year, which caused him to miss three months. The break in the golf season due to the coronavirus was “beneficial” to his health, he says, and allowed him to recover.

The 30-year-old from West Palm Beach, Fla. has burst onto the scene the last three years and dominated. He won the US Open in 2017 and 2018 and the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019. Last year, he finished no lower than tied for fourth in any of the majors.

Both Koepka and McIlroy shot a -2 in the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, tying them for 39th.

PGA’s Memorial Tournament will be played with limited fan attendance

The first sport to return with fan involvement may well be the PGA Tour.

On Friday, the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio got approval from the state government to proceed with limited fan attendance. According to Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch, 8,000 fans will be allowed at any time, roughly 20 percent of the course’s actual capacity.

The tournament will be held on July 16-19 at Muirfield Village.

Safety protocols will be the next major hurdle event organizers have to deal with, as spectators may be required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked before entry.

“The Memorial is looking forward to … (becoming) an example of how public gathering events can be developed and implemented with approved and accepted protocols in place,” the tournament said in a statement.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this goes. Like every other sport, the tour will initially resume without fans, but will serve as something of an experiment once they do return. Other sports will definitely be watching to see how well the safety protocols work and how willing fans are to abide by them.

Tom Brady posts great recap of ‘The Match,’ says he will keep his day job

Tom Brady certainly was not the best golfer on the course during “The Match” on Sunday, but the four-time Super Bowl MVP enjoyed the experience. Playing alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson was, however, a friendly reminder for Brady that he is in the right profession.

Brady reflected on “The Match” in an Instagram post on Wednesday. He provided a lengthy recap that included some nice words for Woods, Mickelson and Peyton Manning in addition to a bit of self-criticism.

View this post on Instagram

I learned a few lessons from this past weekend’s golf tournament with @philmickelson @tigerwoods and #Peyton…I had a lot of fun and grateful to be part of an event that raised a lot of money for Covid relief: 1. Amazing what happens when groups of people come together for the common good. 2. Peyton is still as clutch as ever. 3. I did not escape the inclement weather…heavy stuff…ALL DAY. 4. I shouldn’t wear the same pants to golf that I wear to church. 5. As great as @philmickelson is as a golfer, he is a better man, coach and teammate and potentially has the best calves on the PGA Tour. 6. I really enjoy golf…at halftime of football games we get checked for concussions, in golf, you get refreshments. 7. It was nice to be the young guy again. 8. @tigerwoods was a great host and champion, and I was especially thankful he missed that putt on the 7th hole…had he made it, I would have just went home. 9. I’m sticking to my day job

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Brady found himself in an unfamiliar position throughout much of the event — embarrassing himself on national television. He couldn’t seem to hit a fairway all day, and he even split his pants after making perhaps the best shot of the round. It simply was not the 42-year-old’s day, but he helped raise $20 million for a good cause.

While Brady should definitely stick to his day job, we wouldn’t hate seeing him take part in “The Match” again in the future.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have teamed up yet again! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson could play annual match with celebrity partners

You could come up with a long list of reasons for why “The Match” was such a massive success on Sunday, and a lot of that has to do with all that is going on in the world. Still, having Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson grab a celebrity partner and square off against one another is something that would always draw a big audience, which is why it could become an annual event.

With an average of 5.8 million viewers, Sunday’s match that pitted Woods and Peyton Manning against Mickelson and Tom Brady was the most-watched golf telecast in cable TV history. It also raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief. Plans are now in the works to do something similar every year, and Mickelson told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times that he already has some thoughts on who could partake in the future.

“I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents and have great personalities,” Mickelson said. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”

Woods and Mickelson originally agreed to three separate events, according to Markazi. The first was in 2018, when they went head-to-head without partners. Bryan Zuriff, a film and TV producer who thought of the first event, said one of the issues with it was that Tiger and Phil are both pro golfers and stopped talking much down the stretch when their competitive natures took over. Having other athletes or celebrities join them helps with that, though Mickelson isn’t sure anyone will be better in that department than Brady and Manning.

“They were humanized with their golf game yet they were competitive and they were funny and entertaining. They let their sense of humor come out,” Mickelson said. “It’s about finding the right mix of those competitors and I don’t think we could get two better guys than who we had in Peyton and Tom. Going forward that will be the challenge. How do we improve on that?”

While future installments of “The Match” may not draw as many viewers, they would undoubtedly be a success. There are plenty of ways to liven up the broadcast no matter who is playing, and we saw several great examples of that on Sunday. Hopefully Tiger and Phil keep it going.

TV ratings for ‘The Match’ set new cable record

Whatever you think of the entertainment value of “The Match,” it’s pretty clear that it was a huge ratings winner for TNT.

Sunday’s charity golf match pitted Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. It attracted 5.8 million viewers, and according to TNT, that’s a new cable record for a golf telecast.

Pairing two of the most well-known golfers in the world with two of the most iconic quarterbacks of their generation and having them play golf is a big ratings win when the rest of the sports world is shut down. It got plenty of people talking and was entertaining in its own way, particularly the banter between the competitors.

Perhaps people wanted to see Tom Brady look human, which he did for much of the first half of the round. Ultimately, he got the last laugh, even if he and Mickelson lost by a stroke.

Video: Justin Thomas calls Charles Barkley a ‘fat a–‘ on live TV

There was plenty of friendly trash talk exchanged during “The Match” on Sunday, but the best of it did not come from the golfers. Believe it or not, Justin Thomas may have taken that honor.

Thomas joined the TNT broadcast as a special guest analyst for the charity match that pitted Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. Charles Barkley was also part of the production, and Thomas and Barkley had a hilarious exchange at one point when Chuck said he wasn’t impressed by a beautiful bunker shot from Woods.

“I don’t know what y’all are so excited about,” Barkley said of the shot. “He’s a golf pro. You don’t see me get excited when a guy dunks a ball.”

Thomas, who of course is also a pro golfer, couldn’t let it slide. He fired back at Barkley by telling Sir Charles he would “love to see your fat a– try to dunk a ball right now.”

We originally thought Manning might win the award for best smack talker with the way he heckled Brady on the driving range, but Thomas came out of nowhere when he roasted Barkley. We didn’t know J.T. had that in him.

Video: Tom Brady holes out with incredible shot, splits his pants

Tom Brady played miserable golf for six-plus holes during “The Match” on Sunday, but the four-time Super Bowl MVP came roaring back just as many people were giving up on him.

After spraying the ball all over the course and looking completely overmatched, Brady holed out for birdie with an incredible approach shot on the 7th. The shot didn’t look lucky either. It took two hops on the green and spun beautifully into the hole.

How excited was Brady? So excited that he appeared to split his pants right down the seam while bending over the retrieve his ball from the cup.

Brady had quickly become a laughing stock before dunking that shot. At one point during the TNT broadcast, Charles Barkley offered to donate $50,000 to charity if Brady hit a green on a par-3. Brady missed badly. Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka then said he would donate $100,000 if Brady made a par on the front nine, and the chances of that happening looked slim for a while.

Koepka was happy to put up the $100K after Brady’s amazing shot, and he offered the 42-year-old a chance to double it.

Brady was so bad for the first several holes that even Sean Payton ruthlessly trolled him on social media. The hole out for birdie could not have come at a better time. Apparently it is unwise to count Brady out even on the golf course.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have teamed up yet again! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.