They are some of the most skilled athletes in the world, but like the rest of us, golf is proving to be the ultimate leveler.
This is group that includes two NFL MVP awards, two NBA MVP gongs, 13 Pro Bowl appearances and 14 All-Star attendances and some have turned to online learning to avoid embarrassment on TV.
Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson admitted as much in the lead up to The Match 2023 which begins on Thursday which sees him and his teammate Steph Curry – nicknamed the ‘Splash Brothers’ – tee off against Kansas City Chiefs duo Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce in a 12-hole golf event all in the name of charity.
“I try not to overcomplicate things, especially this close to The Match, you just want to play your game,” Thompson explained to reporters. “But I am a millennial. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube.
“Last night I watched Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy’s tutorial on the scoring shots, so I learned some things. I’ve just been trying to pick up little tips from the pros.
“We’re so lucky in the age of the internet with all the information out there, I’ve just been trying to get in golf mode and have not watched any basketball in the last few weeks … a lot of Tiger (Woods) highlights too because we were blessed to grow up seeing his whole peak and do his thing and it’s very motivating just to learn from these guys and kind of try to do their job for a day.”
The all-NFL vs. all-NBA clash is being staged at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas.
The pairs will compete in a scramble format, with each player teeing off but then choosing their team’s best ball to play as their next shot. This format continues until each team putts the ball home and the lowest score will win the hole.
In what is the eighth edition of the contest, Thursday’s match will once again feature the participants wearing microphones and a star-studded commentary team, including host Ernie Johnson, basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley as co-commentator, 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman as analyst, and a cart commentator pairing of four-time NBA champion Draymond Green and two-time Super Bowl winner Von Miller.
Mahomes and Curry are making their second appearances in the event, both hoping to have better results having lost in their first attempts.
And like previous editions of The Match, there has been plenty of trash talking between the two parties already.
It first began when Curry posted a video on social media showing him watching videos on YouTube of Chiefs defeats in recent years, in particular the team’s loss in the Super Bowl in 2021.
“Getting real inspired by what I see on the TV, Pat,” a laughing Curry says while swinging a golf club. “It’s going to be the same thing in Vegas, baby.”
And Kelce said he and Mahomes are feeling confident too. “I don’t think we’re underdogs in this at all. I don’t know about Steph and Klay, but me and Pat have never lost in Vegas, and that’s not a shot at the (Las Vegas) Raiders at all,” he told reporters.
“We’ve won Pro Bowls, we’ve won golf tournaments. I’m not sure if the Wynn wants to see us on the roulette table or the craps table as much as they want to see us on the golf course. We just like to have fun and Vegas has been real good to us.”
The competition is once again taking place in the name of charity, with contributions this year raising money for the ‘No Kid Hungry’ campaign, which aims to end childhood hunger in the United States.
Over the previous seven editions, ‘The Match’ has raised more than $35 million for various organizations and has donated more than 27 million meals.
These NBA and NFL stars, who have had extreme success in their respective fields, will be hoping that their chemistry together will help bring them success in Thursday’s event.
“I’m going to take the same formula we do on the court,” Thompson says. “Steph attracts all the attention, but I could sneak in there, put one on the pin playing best ball, so I’m just going to get in where I fit in and help Steph out as much as he needs me.”
Mahomes says he’s learned a lot about how Kelce likes to play. “I have a good feel for his game. We’ll know when to go for it, when to kind of hit one in the fairway and let each other kind of be the best at what we’re the best at.
“As far as the pace of play, it’s perfect for Travis because that’s how, that’s how he usually plays anyways. He likes to take his time. For me, I’m not to kind of keep my mind busy maybe get a few Coors lights kind of calm me down.”
The action begins on Thursday at 6.30 p.m. E.T. with all the action being exclusively televised on TNT.