Turner Sports finalizes details for third version of “The Match”

Basketball Hall of Famer and Turner Sports personality Charles Barkley, who will be part of the third iteration of "The Match" in November. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Turner Sports has finalized plans for a third iteration of “The Match,” with the planned November 27 event to feature two new superstars to join event holdovers Phil Mickelson and Peyton Manning. 

Set for the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, the officially named “Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Change” will feature PGA Tour veteran star Mickelson and former National Football League legend Manning joined by Charles Barkley, Basketball Hall of Fame and part of Turner Sports’ iconic Inside The NBA, and Stephen Curry, current star with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

The competition, to be played in a modified alternate shot match play format, will see Mickelson and Barkley paired together and competing against the group of Manning and Curry. The pairings will see the professional Mickelson paired with Barkley, widely mocked for his unsightly golf swing, while both Manning and Curry are skilled amateur golfers. Barkley also is shifting from his prior role in the last version of “The Match” as an on-air analyst.

 The event will serve as a fundraiser for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). That target for the funding follows Curry’s pledge last year to fund the golf program at Howard University, a prominent HBCU, through the 2025-26 academic year.

The last version of the “The Match,” staged in May relatively early in the Covid-19 pandemic, was a ratings smash, generating the largest ratings of any golf telecast in the history of cable television, despite a 45-minute rain delay, and raised $20m for Covid-19 relief efforts. Mickelson then said he was eager to see “The Match” become an annual event. 

But instead, the third version will arrive just six months after the second.

“’The Match’ has become a franchise featuring some of the best of sports and entertainment, and we’re looking forward to this next iteration and the meaningful awareness it will raise for social change,” said Lenny Daniels, Turner Sports president. “While Phil, Charles, Stephen, and Peyton on the course, there’s sure to be no shortage of must-see moments, in addition to the important causes driving each athlete’s participation.”

The event, to be held at the Mickelson-owned Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Arizona, will be broadcast on TNT, with exclusive live content before and during competition also shown on sister Turner Sports property Bleacher Report. Like the prior iteration of “The Match,” elements such as “Cart Cam” will be featured.

“It’s going to give fans and viewers and up-close look at Stone Canyon Golf Club, a place that I’m extremely proud of and excited to show how special it is,” Mickelson said.

The Black Friday timing of the third version of “The Match” is the same that used for the debut iteration between Mickelson and Tiger Woods, an event that was streamed on the B/R Live platform and was marred by a series of technical issues and tepid competitive energy that were each addressed for the second installment.

The creation of the latest version of “The Match,” involved an agreement struck by Turner Sports and parent corporation WarnerMedia with the Sportfive agency, which represents Mickelson and will serve as the tournament organizers. Excel Sports Management is also involved as the event co-operator. 

The competition, a sanctioned PGA Tour event, also features a series of corporate partners in addition to title sponsor Capital One. Michelob Ultra will be a presenting sponsor. DraftKings is signed on as a content integration partner, while AT&T, Callaway Golf, E-Z-Go, Oxigen Water, and Wheels Up will all be associate sponsors. Autotrader is the presenting sponsor of pre-event coverage.