Mickelson, Rodgers, DeChambeau bring drama to The Match IV

The Match IV. Yes, four. Do you remember the first three? It began back at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas with Phil Mickelson taking on Tiger Woods, right around Thanksgiving 2018. Mickelson was +130, and I bet on him as I felt it should be priced as a Pick ’em. Phil won on an extra hole, a par three, in the darkness and played under the lights.

The Match II was during the quarantine in the summer of 2020. Tiger and Phil opposed one another once again, but Tiger partnered with Peyton Manning and Phil with Tom Brady. Woods and Manning were favored. I bet on them and won again. It was Tiger’s home course, and I didn’t see Woods letting Mickelson get him again … and let’s face it, we were all jonesing for a good wager last summer.

Honestly, the Match III, with Mickelson and Charles Barkley against Manning and Steph Curry, I do not remember. That ought to give you an idea that these made for charity golf competitions aren’t exactly Game 7 of the World Series, and betting on them can be akin to handicapping how many hot dogs Joey Chestnut was going to eat at Coney Island on the Fourth of July.

But the fourth edition of The Match does come with more drama than usual, and drama that can possibly be used as a legitimate handicap. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is teaming up with 2020 U.S. Open Champion, Bryson DeChambeau, and they will take on the familiar pairing of Mickelson and Brady. Are there two athletes on the planet right now more involved in headlines, questions and controversy than Rodgers and DeChambeau?

Rodgers is spending much more time playing golf right now than he is at OTAs with the Packers. In fact, he may not even be a Green Bay Packer for the coming season. In defending his U.S. Open title at Torrey Pines less than three weeks ago, DeChambeau had the lead in the championship, until he walked off the green on the 11th hole. He shot a 44 on the back nine, nearly having to play a shot off of a 12-pack of beer at one point because he was so off-line. He ended up in a tie for 26th place.

Phil Mickelson gives Tom Brady some pointers during The Match III on May 24, 2020.
Phil Mickelson gives Tom Brady some pointers during The Match III on May 24, 2020.
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Just moments before teeing off at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, also in defense of his 2020 title, DeChambeau parted ways with his caddie. Bang! Done. Just like that. See ya later to a guy that had been with him for all eight of his PGA Tour wins. Bryson went on to shoot 1-under par for the first two days with a temp on his bag and missed the cut by two shots.

This is all amidst the ongoing social media trash-talk battle between he and Brooks Koepka that really kicked into high gear at the PGA Championship back in May — that was won by Mickelson, by the way.

Speaking of Phil, he is never too far from a good gambling story is he? And this week at the Rocket Mortgage in Detroit, he did not at all take a liking to an article that was written about him by a local scribe. The story centered around a Detroit bookie Mickelson was involved with 23-years ago. Phil felt the story was old, no longer newsworthy and was simply self-indulgent on the part of the reporter.

Is squeaky clean Brady the only participant that is not in the news? One can’t deflate a golf ball, can they?

Rodgers and DeChambeau are the better golfers currently. Rodgers is thought to be roughly a 4-handicap golfer, Bryson is ranked sixth in the world, and we all saw Brady in The Match II when he looked a whole lot like one of us that shoots in the 90s. Team R&D opened as -185 favorites and since DeChambeau’s episode with his caddie and the missed cut, they have been cut to -175 favorites. I believe you will see the line continue to drop as casual bettors jump on this storyline — along with the fact that Mickelson and Brady are very popular, again to the casual bettor, championship-laden, public darling, fan favorites associated with a juicy plus price.

The venue is in Montana at Moonlight Basin Ranch, a Jack Nicklaus design that stretches to 8,000 yards and is at 7,500 feet in elevation. Yes, Phil will be able to hit bombs in the thin air — and DeChambeau may just hit one to the moon — at Moonlight Basin.

While the -185 price was probably too high, and the distractions for Team R&D — especially D — are a reason to fade them, I believe that because of the nature of this event, it will actually be a calming sanctuary for Rodgers and DeChambeau. Aaron Rodgers is having a blast this summer and is in a perfectly good state of mind. Bryson will likely enjoy a break from his 9-to-5 and be happy to just go out and play golf.

While I did bet on Phil in The Match I and on Tiger in The Match II, I think I will probably sit this one out — but if one is so inclined to put some entertainment money on The Match IV and keep the Fourth of July fireworks going, I think I would wait for that price on the favorites to continue to drop and then jump in on Rodgers and DeChambeau. I think under -150 would be the go point.

And let’s not forget the very most important part of this handicap: A Bear and a Mustang are much more suited for the Big Sky Country than are a Sun Devil and a Wolverine.

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