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“Just Two Pros That Have Beef”: Inside ‘The Match’ with Turner’s Brian Anderson

Black Friday arrives with some appointment viewing with The Match, a clash between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. Turner play-by-play man Brian Anderson tells Boardroom what to expect.

As the rivalry between top golfers Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau grew, the only way to truly settle things was head-to-head on the course. They’ll do just that in Friday’s The Match, Turner Sports’ fifth installment of the smash hit series that’s featured superstars like Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Steph Curry.

Unlike the previous editions, there will be no amateurs competing with the pros. Just Brooks vs Bryson at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas, with 12 holes in match play to determine which elite athlete is truly superior.The Match will be broadcast on TNT, with simulcasts across TBS, truTV, and HLN. Brian Anderson will call play-by-play for the fourth straight telecast, with previous participants Charles Barkley and Phil Mickelson joining analysts and Amanda Balionis serving as the on-course reporter.

“This is just two pros that have beef, and they get to battle it out on the course,” Anderson told Boardroom. “They’re both taking this extremely seriously. It’s going to have the feel of a head-to-head showdown in golf, which is really interesting. It’ll have that playoff vibe of what you’d get on the PGA Tour or maybe in a Ryder Cup scenario.”

Each golfer will have their tour caddies with them, and there will be mics and listening devices on the competitors for two-way communication, as well as golf carts fitted with cameras to get the back-and-forth conversations, confessions, trash talk, and reactions that have helped make The Match such a compelling watch.

“They could not be more different personalities, which will make it so interesting to eavesdrop and watch,” Anderson said. “They win differently. They go about their craft differently. And it’s all going to be on display. And if you’re a golf fan, even a sports fan, it’s a really fascinating study in how these two prepare and compete against each other.”

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And while we’ve seen Barkley in commentary before, this will be Mickelson’s first time in the analyst chair. But Turner won’t be putting Phil through any rehearsal or practice runs, confident that he’ll be in top form once Black Friday comes.

“He knows as much about the game as anyone, but he also really knows how to communicate,” Anderson said. “I think golfers are a little different. I don’t think NBA players, MLB players, NFL players can transfer what they do and how they do it to the average person. But because professional golfers do that so often and they interact so often and they’re always asked to give lessons. Even in the [ESPN Monday Night Football] ‘ManningCast,’ Eli is asking for swing thoughts from Phil. I think that’s such a part of the rhythm for a professional golfer.”

Mickelson and Barkley won’t be afraid to talk trash or joke with each other, the golfers, or Anderson himself without seeming forced in any way. Anderson termed it being interested rather than interesting, even though they’re such big personalities. Because they’re so interested and curious about what’s happening on the tees, fairways, and greens, the conversations and banter are always organic and authentic, with some stirring of the pot thrown in.

On Thursday, Anderson and Balionis will join the production staff on what he called a pre-shot log. Turner will bring out two players to play the roles of DeChambeau and Koepka to time out how long everything will take, from all the shots and the time it takes to drive in the cart between all the tees and greens. That way, everyone will know when the show can go to commercial or when a longer conversation can be initiated.

Of course, another major aspect ofThe Match is how much good is done through donations to worthy causes.

The last three broadcasts have raised over $30 million and an amazing 10 million meals have been donated to Feeding America, with WarnerMedia donating an additional 3.75 million meals just as a lead-in to Friday’s event. Title sponsor Capital One will provide grants to help Black businesses through an ongoing partnership with the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. In addition to Feeding America, donations this week will benefit APGA Tour (Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour), with DeChambeau playing for  Shriner’s Hospital and Koepka playing for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

There will also be individual competitions at various holes that will raise even more money for charity:

  • The third hole will have a DraftKings competition in which the closest player to the hole off the tee will have $50,000 donated in the winning player’s name. $150,000 will be donated if the tee shot comes within five feet of the hole, and $2 million will be donated if there’s a hole in one.
  • For the sixth hole, the closest tee shot will win 500,000 meals donated in the winning player’s name through Wheels Up/Meals Up and Feeding America. Within five feet, 1.5 million meals will be donated and a hole in one will elicit a 20 million meal donation.
  • Capital One’s long drive challenge takes place on the 7th hole, with $200,000 donated in the player’s name that hits the longest tee shot that lands on the fairway.
  • ZipRecruiter and Wagoneer will sponsor the closest to the hole competitions on the 9th and 11th holes, respectively. $50,000 is donated in the name of the player whose tee shot lands closest, with $150,000 going to someone if their shot is within five feet of the hole and $2 million for a hole in one.

The two players agreed on the dozen-hole format, which will conclude under the lights in Vegas. And with celebrities sure to call in, the unpredictable nature of the event, the entertainment of Barkley and Mickelson, and top-notch golfers in a bitter feud, The Match is sure to be appointment viewing.

“We’re not taping and cutting segments and trying to make it pretty,” Anderson said. “It’s just out there for everybody to see, and however it evolves, whatever happens will happen.”

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.