For the first time, Capital One’s The Match did not include any professional golfers, as NFL quarterbacks took the stage for Wednesday evening’s competition at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas.
The Match delivered a drama worthy of playoff football, coming down to the final green on the final hole.
AFC rising star quarterbacks Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes faced off against NFC veterans Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in a topsy-turvy 12-hole match on the Las Vegas Strip. Brady/Rodgers won the first two holes before Allen/Mahomes went on a mid-evening run, taking a 1-up lead with three holes to play.
Brady/Rodgers responded to square The Match with a win on No. 10, and the competition remained tied into its final hole, the par-3 12th.
In captivating fashion, Rodgers delivered a winning birdie on the final green, punctuated with a dramatic fist pump and celebration with his partner Brady.
“We’ve played together maybe three times competitively,” said Brady of Rodgers, “and every time, he’s made a 15-foot putt to win. That was amazing, and it didn’t surprise me when it went in.”
Here’s a hole-by-hole look at how the action unfolded in the sixth iteration of The Match.
No. 12 (par 3, 167 yards)
Brady takes the tee first on the serene par 3. He takes his time, soaking in the moment. He makes clean contact and stares the ball down; it sails a bit past the flag, into a strip of rough approximately 30 feet past the hole.
Rodgers plays a crisp cut on an aggressive line and delivers, the ball settling pin-high just left of the hole, leaving a tasty birdie look of approximately 12 feet.
Brady opts to take his mulligan (he hits the Charles Barkley cutout head with a football to earn his mulligan). With the sun setting, he plays a draw that turns a bit too much, finding the greenside hazard.
Allen perhaps overclubs, playing a cut that settles long and right of the green, in an area of rough near the water’s edge.
Mahomes starts his ball on a line over the water and plays for a cut, but the ball doesn’t cut enough. It splashes. He opts for his mulligan and hits the Charles Barkley cutout head with a football to earn a second swing.
The Kansas City Chiefs star again plays a cut and asks for it to go. It does, but leaving a lengthy birdie try from the front of the green to a back-left hole location. Advantage Brady/Rodgers on the final hole of The Match.
Allen plays first from the front of the green and hits a beautiful putt, the ball tracking toward the cup before stopping on the right edge of the cup, oh-so-close to a dramatic birdie. With nothing to lose, Mahomes’ birdie try has plenty of pace, but it narrowly slides by. Team Allen/Mahomes is in with par.
Two looks at a winning birdie for Brady/Rodgers. Brady goes first from 12 feet, but the putt slides by on the right side. He groans in disbelief.
The stage is set for Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers quarterback assesses the situation, steps over the ball and takes a few looks.
The putt breaks left-to-right, and Rodgers judges it exquisitely. He drains it, right in the heart, for the walk-off victory.
Brady/Rodgers WIN The Match, 1 up
No. 11 (par 4)
Brady pulls hybrid off the tee and plays a crisp cut that splits the center of the fairway. Rodgers takes driver and plays a slithery cut that rides the dogleg-right shape of the hole, perfectly positioned. A crafty play from a crafty veteran.
After Allen fails to get his tee shot in play, the pressure is on Mahomes. The Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller responds, producing a low cut with a driver. He asks for it to land softly, and it does, finding the left rough with a good angle to the hole location.
Playing from Mahomes’ position off the tee, Allen takes a short iron and immediately asks for it to get down. The ball flies over the green and briefly holds up in the rough, amidst a contingent of patrons, before trickling back onto the putting surface. An apparent missed green is suddenly a 20-foot birdie try.
“That’s Bills Mafia right there,” remarks Allen.
Mahomes plays a low skipper that creeps onto the back portion of the green, the same level as the hole location, before catching the ridge and rolling down onto the front level, leaving a lengthy birdie proposition.
From Rodgers’ pinpoint tee shot, Brady plays his second shot from 50 or so yards, taking it high and controlling the spin to leave a birdie look of approximately 10 feet. Rodgers tries a similar play but catches the ball too cleanly; it sails past the flag and doesn’t spin too much, leaving a 25-footer for birdie.
Mahomes’ birdie try scares the hole but slides by on the left side.
Rodgers’ birdie look runs out of steam a few inches short and right; the par is conceded. Mahomes attempts to clean up his 4-footer for par to take the pressure off Allen, but he cannot do so.
Allen’s birdie try trails off a couple feet short and right; the par is conceded.
The stage is cleared for Brady, who faces a mid-length birdie try to win the hole and give his team a 1-up lead with one hole to play. The putt breaks left-to-right, and the putt tails off just to the right.
The hole is tied with pars, setting the stage for a winner-take-all final hole on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Match TIED thru 11