In a rematch of sorts of last season's NFC Championship Game that played out on the links of Montana rather than the gridiron of Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers sank a putt on the 16th hole Tuesday to lift him and teammate Bryson DeChambeau to a 3 and 2 win over Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson in The Match charity golf event at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana.
Rodgers, whose Green Bay Packers lost to Brady and the eventual Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last season's NFC title game, proved clutch against his friendly rival. His putt from 12 feet on the par-3 16th hole was true and locked up the victory.
"I haven't been playing a lot of golf, I'm just a pretty good putter," Rodgers said following the match on TNT. "I just said get me on the green."
Close early, Rodgers, the reigning AP NFL Most Valuable Player and the offseason's most talked-about NFL star, and DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, surged on the back nine, taking a 3 up lead in the match-play format that enabled them to win the event, which took more than five hours, two holes early.
"I was glad I was able to get my partner up on the greens and he was making everything today," DeChambeau said.
Tuesday saw the second pairing for Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl winner, and Mickelson, who teamed up against Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods in a losing effort last year.
"We had fun and I feel like I'm the variable, the unfortunate variable, between winning and losing with Phil," Brady said, pointing out that Mickelson was 0-2 with him as a partner and 2-0 without him in the four renditions of The Match. "Happy for these two, they actually played amazing. Aaron killed it. Bryson was playing great. They were tough to beat today."
With the event taking place in Montana, there were scenic shots aplenty of wildlife, including what looked to be a cinnamon bear. TNT host Brian Anderson took the opportunity to segue from the shot of the bear to the Chicago Bears and asked Rodgers, whose dismay and absence from activities with the Packers has been one of the offseason's top stories, if No. 12 would be quarterbacking for Green Bay against its archrivals.
"We'll see," Rodgers replied, offering little as he has for most of the offseason.
There was plenty of trash talk as was expected, but nothing all that newsworthy came out regarding Rodgers' ongoing impasse with the Packers. However, if there was a zinger -- or two -- that drew the most notice it was when Brady was talking to Tampa Bay teammate Rob Gronkowski, who was being interviewed over the phone.
As Brady and Gronk teased each other about who was the most prepared for the upcoming season, the QB noted he was getting a first-hand look at the opposition.
"I'm studying my competition. I'm 30 yards away from Aaron, who's the leader of the Packers -- I think," Brady said.
To which Gronkowski, perhaps not realizing Rodgers was able to hear the conversation, responded with a dig on Rodgers' offseason.
"You're studying the wrong guy. Aaron looks more lazy now than I did in retirement," Gronkowski said.
Also part of the event as a broadcaster was wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who remains unsigned and hasn't announced whether he will return to play, but nothing came to the forefront regarding his uncertain future, either.
The event's conducted over 18 holes of a match-play, modified alternate shot format. Match-play scoring means whichever team has the best score wins an individual hole, with tied holes halved with no carryover. The winner is the team with the most points at the conclusion of 18 holes, as opposed to the standard stroke play in place at every PGA Tour event.
DeChambeau and Rodgers took the first lead with a win on the par-4 first hole, but it was hardly a foreshadowing of things to come as the match went back and forth.
Brady sank a birdie putt on the par-3 seventh hole to put himself and Mickelson 1 up, but the match was all square after eight holes and remained as such after the first nine.
Rodgers and DeChambeau began to forge ahead on the par-4 10th, taking a 1 up lead, which was their first since the start of the exhibition. The tandem didn't stop there, though, extending and taking the largest advantage of the match. Rodgers' birdie on the 12th was the third straight birdie for the pair and third straight hole won for them, putting them 3 up.
The winning streak was stopped at the 13th, which was halved, so Rodgers and DeChambeau kept their 3 up lead.
With a chance to clinch the win on the 15th hole, Rodgers and DeChambeau stumbled and conceded, dropping their advantage to 2 up as Brady and Mickelson won for the first time since the seventh. But a second chance to sew up the win was all Rodgers would need.
"He's been clutch," DeChambeau said moments before Rodgers' match-ending make.