Capital One’s COF The Match franchise, the campy modern-day telethon where birdies and banter are on equal footing, has cumulatively raised $33 million for various charitable organizations and donated 17 million meals to Feeding America. The sixth installment tees off June 1st at Wynn Golf Club on the Las Vegas strip.
This go-around The Match co-creator and producer Bryan Zuriff, best known for his work on the Showtime series Ray Donovan, has ditched pro-golfers entirely. He’s concocted an all-NFL quarterback scramble pitting future first ballot hall of famers Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers against next generation gunslingers, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, in a 12-hole golf duel.
“I don’t like to make projections but I do feel this could be the most watched Match yet,” Zuriff says, praising the job Turner Sports, who is airing the event on TNT and also simulcasting it on truTV and HLN, has done promoting the event.
“I think they realize they have something really special, to have these four defiant American athletes at one place at one time,” he adds.
The genesis of this edition came while Zuriff was watching the Bills and Chiefs duke it out in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs. Helmed by their respective hotshot signal callers, both teams combined for 25 points in the final two minutes of regulation to send the whopper of a shootout into overtime.
“When Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes had that epic football game, that’s when that hit me. Immediately I texted the network and said we have to do something with these guys,” Zuriff recalls.
While both are incredible athletes with a real passion for golf, neither has had a big triumph in competition yet. Playing in his second American Century Classic last August Mahomes finished tied for 50th and Josh Allen, teamed with Keith Mitchell, missed the cut in his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am debut this past January. Zuriff is quick to point out that this was right after football season and he hadn’t a touched a golf club in weeks.
While the Brady and Rodgers tandem are the clear favorites and have prior Match experience to draw on, anything can happen in 12 holes and it would be foolish to discount the newbies’ chances.
“They pound the ball. They hit it as far as the pros. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen literally hit it off the planet. Now let’s just hope they hit it straight, but they hit it far. Their sheer power is going to be very impressive. These guys are out there working it. They want to win so bad. They want to beat these guys,” Zuriff, who likens the vibe between competitors to a sibling rivalry, explains.
Looking ahead an all-NBA edition would seem to be a slam dunk and it is being considered, but there are plenty of other options on the drawing board including leaning into Formula 1 in a bid to grow the brand internationally. Outside the U.S., Warner Bros Discovery Sports platforms including discovery+, the Eurosport App, Eurosport 2 and GOLFTV are carrying next week’s event.
Another direction they are open to exploring is casting current blockbuster movie stars who play golf, a list that includes Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. Perhaps a Marvel vs D.C. clash or a battle of dudes who have donned Batman’s cowl could be in order?
Return of Phil
Phil Mickelson who skipped his defense of the PGA Championships and has been MIA since his leaked controversial remarks concerning the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, could also make a return to The Match, an event he’s played an integral role in since the beginning. He played in the first four iterations and showed off his commentating chops during last year’s Brooks Koepka vs Bryson DeChambeau tete-a-tete.
“Phil was obviously an incredible partner for a long time and still is, he’s just taking a pause. I have spoken with him and he’s doing great and he’s enjoying his time off. He’s taking a pause in his life and resetting priorities but this is a project that he loves and something that is dear to his heart,” Zuriff says.