A New Chapter in The Match Series: Female Participants Bring a Twist to the Game
When NFL quarterback legends collide or golf’s most notorious rivals face off, The Match series never fails to deliver on its promise of unique entertainment. However, the upcoming ninth edition is set to make history by including female participants for the first time.
Broadcast live by TNT Sports, this highly anticipated event will feature an exceptional lineup comprising four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, 11-time LPGA champion Lexi Thompson, rising LPGA Tour star Rose Zhang, and six-time PGA Tour winner Max Homa from Team USA at the 2023 Ryder Cup.
Teeing off at 6:30 p.m. ET (11:30 p.m. GMT) on February 26th under dazzling lights, The Match will take place across a unique 12-hole event held at The Park course in West Palm Beach, Florida. To add a twist to the game dynamics, all golfers will tee off from the same point for the first four par-3 holes while experiencing variations in tee box and yardage for subsequent holes.
This year’s event holds more than just competition—it aims to contribute towards philanthropy as each hole on the course carries a certain amount of charity money. First Tee is chosen as this year’s beneficiary—a youth organization chaired by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan that harnesses golf as a medium to develop children’s social skills.
In previous editions of The Match series alone, over $38 million has been raised for various causes across the United States, proving its significant impact on society.
Transformed and reopened in 2023, The Park course has a distinguished history as a former PGA Tour stop during the 1950s and 60s. Its recent renovations now include tailored facilities for youth classes, including a dedicated two-acre golf area exclusively for children.
Rory McIlroy is eager to seek redemption after his comprehensive loss alongside Tiger Woods in his only previous experience of The Match two years ago against long-time friends Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in Florida. Reflecting on that defeat, McIlroy expressed his hope for securing his first victory in this edition.
“Last time, Tiger and I sort of got our butts handed to us by JT and Jordan, so hopefully I can get my first win in this thing,” said McIlroy with determination following his recent success at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic where he clinched his first silverware this year.
McIlroy also believes that the inclusion of female participants will help bring attention to women’s golf while elevating their game. Golf doesn’t often have opportunities like tennis where both men’s and women’s tournaments are played side by side at the same venues or competitions.
“The only other comparable I can have to golf is tennis, where they do play a lot in the same venues and in the same tournaments – that doesn’t really happen with the men and women’s game in golf,” added McIlroy passionately.
“It’ll certainly give all of us, but especially the two girls [Thompson and Zhang], a different platform on which to showcase their skills … something like this could be amazing for the women’s game down the road.”
Acknowledging Lexi Thompson’s explosive style of play along with Rose Zhang’s remarkable talent as an absolute phenom, McIlroy expressed his admiration for the two female participants who embody the bright present and future of the LPGA Tour.
At just 28 years old, Thompson already boasts a major title from her victory at the 2014 Chevron Championship among her impressive tally of 11 LPGA Tour wins. She has even made history as one of only seven women to compete on the PGA Tour.
Rose Zhang, on the other hand, is considered one of golf’s most exciting prospects in recent times. Despite being a 20-year-old Stanford student, she made an unforgettable professional debut last June after spending a record-breaking 141 weeks as the world’s top amateur player. Her first attempt resulted in an extraordinary victory against major champion Jennifer Kupcho at the Mizuho Americas Open—a feat that hadn’t been achieved in 72 years.
Zhang said …