Even with Charles Barkley talking trash, Tom Brady finds a way be clutch
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a reminder this offseason of Tom Brady’s clutch performances under pressure — and the future Hall of Fame quarterback was nowhere near a football field.
It happened in May during “The Match: Champions for Charity”, a made-for-TV golf showdown featuring Brady and Phil Mickelson versus Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla.
The rain was coming down, and Brady was spraying his shots all over, struggling far more than Manning and taking a ribbing from TNT’s broadcast team, most of all Charles Barkley, who has a famously horrendous swing.
“I’m going to give you some shots, man,” Barkley said, proposing a match of his own against Brady. “I want some of you.”
Clearly agitated, Brady snapped back: “Chuck, I’ve been focusing on football, bro. I’m trying to win a Super Bowl. It’ll turn on. Ain’t over yet.”
Then, he casually pulled a pitching wedge from his bag and hit a shot of roughly 125 yards that landed just beyond the hole and spun back into the cup.
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The studio crew erupted in cheers and applause, as Brady capped the hole out on No. 7 with a wry: “Take a suck of that, Chuck.”
Hitting a golf ball is nothing like hitting a tight end streaking across the middle — or getting blindsided by a blitzing linebacker off the edge — yet it’s easy to see why Tampa Bay has flipped over Brady.
Even at 43, he gives that organization hope it hasn’t had since the early days of Jon Gruden, who coached the Buccaneers to their only Super Bowl victory in the 2001 season — a year after Brady led New England to its first of six Lombardi Trophies.
The guy responds on the golf course just like he does on the football field, by putting it right back in your face.
Brady and Manning recently spoke to The Times about that moment on the golf course and how it’s emblematic of the Buccaneers star as the consummate competitor and centerpiece of Tampa Bay’s high-octane offense.
“The first six holes I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me, this is ridiculous,” Brady said. “I knew we were being miked and I was trying not to be cussing everyone out. But I hung in there and then Charles was talking [trash] and I didn’t like that so much. And then Brooks [Koepka] put $100,000 on whether or not I’d make a par.
“And then the shot went in. It was a good shot, but there was probably a lot more luck than it was a good shot.”
CBS’ Jim Nantz, who wasn’t calling this particular match but was watching from home, said it was more skill than luck that led to that shot.
“It’s not like he skulled it and it ran up to the green, crashed into the flagstick and dropped,” Nantz said. “He threw it 10 feet behind the hole, it had some side spin, or some people call it ‘had some sauce on it,’ and it found its way to the hole.
“It’s just astronomical odds that anybody ... you could put Tiger, who was in that group, and ask him, ‘OK, we need to hole this shot.... We’ll wait. Go ahead and make it.’
“They might have been there the rest of the afternoon until darkness fell, and even Tiger wouldn’t have made it, or Phil. They just don’t go in, no matter how great you are.”
Manning won’t soon forget the moment.
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“I call it the suck-it-Chuck chip shot,” the retired five-time NFL most valuable player said. “I was pumped up for him. I ran over there from where I was on the green and high-fived him. Look, I was right in there with him. Tom and I were in the same boat. We were out of our element, definitely not in our comfort zone.
“Tom played 18 holes that morning. I hit balls, and went over to Tiger’s house for a little putting lesson. We were grinding all the way just to try to keep it in play.”
While Brady saved par with that shot, Manning wound up saving Brady, who split his pants plucking the ball out of the hole.
“He comes to me and says, ‘Hey, P, can you help me out?’” Manning said. “I had just bought a rain suit in the pro shop because I didn’t have anything because I’m like, it’s going to be perfect weather in Florida. I’m down there in shorts and a shirt, so I buy a $250 rain suit ... I give him my rain pants, and do I get them back? No, absolutely not. He owes me 125 bucks for the pants.”
This much is undeniable: Brady is money.
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