From the start of The Match: Champions for Change, it was clear that Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley should not have been the heavy underdogs. Though Peyton Manning and Stephen Curry beat them on the first hole, Barkley piped a drive, and it was clear their team chemistry was going to play well since, you know, they had a five-time major winner hitting half the shots.
Four hours later, Lefty and Chuck beat Curry and Manning 4 and 3 in the third installment of this series, and that first hole was the only time the entire day they trailed. The strategy was simple for Mickelson and Barkley in the modified alternate shot format. Barkley would hit irons off the tee from his “Chuck tees” (consistently 50-70 yards ahead of everyone else), and Mickelson would hit approach shots. Barkley — apparently a 25-handicap — proved himself a good lag putter, while Curry and Manning struggled.
Following a loss at the first hole, Mickelson and Barkley deployed their strategy to perfection, making two straight birdies and ripping off four consecutive holes before Curry and Manning could catch their breath. That’s more or less where the score remained for the rest of the match.
Mickelson and Barkley played the front nine in even par — a minor miracle coming into the day given the state of Barkley’s golf swing — and birdied the first hole on the back nine as well. The question at that point was only which hold would be the last, and at one point, Barkley petitioned TNT executives to fire up old “Law & Order” reruns because the match was going to be over so quickly.
While it lasted the allotted four hours, it was a struggle to get there for Curry and Manning, who managed to make just one birdie, which came on the par-5 15th (and last) hole. It matched a Mickelson-Barkley birdie on the same hole, which ended the match and gave the old man group the 4 and 3 win.