I've been doing some reading in anticipation of this Sunday's golf event that features two well known golfers, and two equally well known quarterbacks.
It's Tom and Phil on one team, vs Peyton and Tiger on the other. Earlier this week I went to www.spreads.ca to see what the line was on the match, wait, that's a proper noun in this case, so I mean, The Match. Peyton and Tiger at the moment are favoured at about 1.44 with Tom and Phil at 2.60, which is a slight movement in the direction of the Woods/Manning pairing as deeper favourites.
The more I investigate this bet, the more I've flip-flopped on who I think is going to win this thing, and the more I now think the public is right in the way this line is moving.
Let's look at the swings, first off.
Tom has what seemingly looks like a well-oiled, fluid swing. Or maybe I'm just getting distracted by the awe-inspiring view from the 10th hole at Pebble.
Peyton's swing, with the fused neck he has after surgery, is less buttery in appearance, but it feels a lot more reliable and 'down the middle' to me. This is going to be the big variable in this game, more than anything else: where the amateurs leave their shot for the pro in the alternate shot back nine format.
I've been reading some comments from Tiger Woods himself as he assessed the swings of each amateur, and while he was complimentary of his partner Peyton's swing, especially after fighting through adversity of having to change it post neck surgery, his assessment of Tom's swing focused on the open-face of the driver at impact.
I read into Tiger's comments that Tom is far more the wild card in this match up. If Brady grooves out a slice swing and can't overcome it, it's going to leave Tiger with a lot of creative clean up shots from the right side of the fairway or whatever trouble is along that perimeter. If Peyton is the more consistent of the two, I like Phil's easier shots into the green a lot more than what Tom is potentially liable to leave for Tiger.
The handicaps of the two football players give the nod to Peyton as well. Peyton's handicap is listed as a 6.4, while Tom is listed at 8.1. Peyton, not needing to focus or prep for an NFL schedule, at least not as a player on the field, apparently has been playing a lot more golf than Tom over the last couple of years. Word is that Tom has scores over his last 20 games that are far wider in range than Peyton, with Tom's highest tally being an extremely mortal score of 106.
But the thing that really sways my mind here that has me tilted to the Manning side is the endorsement of PGA pro, Ricky Barnes. I think he's got it exactly upside-down. In a piece with ESPN I reviewed earlier today, Ricky Barnes think the play of the QBs will be irrelevant and it's all down to Tiger and Phil. How can that be the conclusion? The pros are going to play like pros, and the quarterbacks are going to be the ones that are prone to frustration, erratic shots, focus, and unpredictability.
FULL DISCLOSURE: nearly eleven years ago, I took Ricky Barnes to win the US Open at a THOUSAND TO ONE, one of a few longshots I took that year. I recall reading about how his father was a kicker in the NFL, for Tom's former team, the Patriots.
On the Saturday afternoon that US Open, Ricky was up by 6 strokes over the next player, Lucas Glover. Was I counting my $250 bet (that's right, $250,000 payday if he stayed up there) as cash in the bank? I was, admittedly. Then Ricky decided to get a serious case of the yips. Sigh. The toughest slow motion train wreck of a bet I've ever placed.
Unlike a football game with a running clock, golf is MUCH more in your head and subject to what goes on between the ears of the players as they walk the fairways with an internal monologue chirping away. Just ask Ricky Barnes.