Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and retired NBA star Charles Barkley defeated NBA guard Stephen Curry and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning 4 and 3 in a charity golf match on Friday.
The made-for-television spectacle, “The Match: Champions for Change,” was staged at Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Arizona, to benefit historically Black universities as well as feeding-the-needy charities.
Mickelson sank four birdie putts and Barkley, known for his swing struggles, was better than expected in dispatching Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Curry and two-time Super Bowl champion Manning.
“The man is strong and has a deft, soft touch around the green,” Mickelson declared about Barkley, a 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player who is now a 57-year-old TV commentator. “He has simplified everything and calmed his mind down.”
Curry, who helped re-establish a golf program at Howard University, has played in developmental tour events, while Manning has played alongside 15-time major winner Tiger Woods in an earlier charity match event.
Barkley’s errant tee shots were played for laughs early on, with pre-match gifts of a safety vest, mace, snakebite kit and snacks in case he got lost seeking a woefully errant drive.
But Barkley had the last laugh, doing a respectable job off the tees and with his short game.
“I’m going to keep getting better,” Barkley said. “I’m getting there.”
The 18-hole modified alternate shot event began with Manning parring the opening hole to put himself and Curry ahead, but Mickelson and Barkley, shaking off the taunts, won the next four holes to seize a 3-up advantage.
A wayward drive at the seventh turned into a win for Mickelson and Barkley when Manning found a greenside bunker, but the 4-up lead lasted only until a missed Barkley putt let Curry and Manning win the eighth to pull within 3-down.
Barkley and Mickelson won the 10th to regain a 4-up edge, but Mickelson’s tee shot at 11 found desert bushes right, and they needed five to reach the green as Curry and Manning pulled within three with seven holes to play.
A strong Barkley chip from greenside rough enabled the Mickelson duo to capture the 12th hole with a double bogey, as Manning and Curry struggled in the desert sand.
After halving the 13th and 14th holes to go dormie, Mickelson and Barkley won at the par-5 15th.
Manning holed an eight-foot birdie putt, but Mickelson topped him from six feet to halve the hole and claim the match.