Gary McCord on broadcasting The Match III: ‘I’m just going to follow along and try to keep throwing kerosene on the fire’


The producers of Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Change deserve a raise for plucking Gary McCord out of retirement to serve as one of the on-course commentators for the upcoming made-for-TV match pitting Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley against Peyton Manning and Steph Curry.

McCord, a journeyman Tour pro turned golf commentator for CBS Sports for 35 years, is the right combination of glib, wacky and flat-out funny to keep the conversation light and the laughs coming. He’s also played enough golf with Sir Charles, known for his ungainly hitch in his swing, over the years to predict that Mickelson will have his work cut out for him.

“This will be the greatest coaching exhibition since Knute Rockne,” McCord said.

Turner Sports will televise this third rendition of The Match, to be held Friday, Nov. 27, at 3 p.m. ET at Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Arizona, and McCord explained why he was interested in participating.

“This is right up my alley. The format is four guys trying to get it in the hole while bitch-slapping each other verbally. That’s fun,” he said. “Those four guys will do it. If we can get them going, which shouldn’t be hard to do, it will be quite entertaining. You know that Phil will find something and just like a scab he’ll start picking at it until he can get somebody to come back with something. He’s probably the best guy out there with the biggest needle.

“There’s a reason they hired me and it’s not to say, ‘It’s 165 yards and he’s got a 6 iron.’ I’m just going to follow along and try to keep throwing kerosene on the fire.”

McCord said he and Barkley have made plans to go play a practice round next week to figure out how to play Stone Canyon, which is situated at the base of the picturesque Tortolita Mountains, offering views of the Santa Catalina Mountains in all directions.

McCord last played with Barkley, known as “the round mound of rebound” during his NBA days, about a month ago and suggested that Mickelson better be practicing hard.

“Chuck can go practice all he wants but what he’s going to get under the gun, nobody knows. The problem with Chuck is he’s got the yips. It’s performance anxiety. When we play, he makes a full swing and it’s fine. It can get squirrely at times, but it’s OK. It never comes out unless there is some anxiety. I’ve seen him hit balls all day and it’s beautiful. He gets to The Match and he could have the triple hitch. You can’t practice for the yips. God love him, he’s fun to be around, he’s funnier than hell and I wish he could play good golf. If I had a Christmas wish, it would be for Charles Barkley, please, just let him be able to play golf again.”

But McCord said not to count on Barkley to find his game all of a sudden. Manning he knows is quite capable as a golfer and while he’s never seen Curry play, McCord thinks the two of them should have a decided advantage. With the modified alternate-shot format, Mickelson will have to play many of Barkley’s miscues. He predicted Mickelson may spend more time in the desert than Moses.

“Phil could come out of this with something between 20 and 50 jumping cholla attached to him,” McCord said. “He could be a walking cactus by the end of this thing.”

Reason enough to tune in as they raise significant charitable dollars towards a goof cause, and it will be a bonus to hear McCord back in the saddle adding his insights and inimitable style to the broadcast.

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