Capital One's 'The Match 7': Explaining Rules for Woods, McIlroy vs. Thomas, Spieth

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2022

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Capital One's The Match is back for its seventh iteration. While casual fans may not be as excited about this edition as past ones—it doesn't feature non-PGA athletes like Peyton Manning or Stephen Curry—golf purists should be thrilled.

PGA legend Tiger Woods is back for his third appearance in The Match, and he'll be paired with the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy. They'll face off against the team of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

While The Match VII doesn't carry the novelty of an NFL quarterback duel—the last edition pitted Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers against Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen—it should still be a ton of fun.

Woods is notorious for being one of the top competitors in the sport, and he's very familiar with McIlroy. The two co-founded TMRW Sports. Thomas and Spieth, meanwhile, are longtime friends.

All four participants have faced off on the PGA tour.

Fans can expect a lot of quality golf, some tight competition and, likely, a fair bit of trash talk. Here's what you need to know.

Capital One's The Match VII

Who: Woods/McIlroy vs. Spieth/Thomas

Where: Pelican Golf Course in Belleair, Florida

When: Saturday, 10 December

Time: 6 p.m. ET

TV: TNT, TBS, truTV and HLN

Odds (from FanDuel):

Spieth/Thomas -125 (bet $125 to win $100)

Woods/McIlroy +100 (bet $100 to win $100)

Format and Rules

One interesting aspect of The Match VII is that it will be played at night. Pelican Golf Course features an open environment, which is perfect for temporary lighting and a prime-time event.

"The way the golf course is laid out, I would call it a parkland, especially the back nine,” said Justin Sheehan, Pelican's director of golf, per Jeff Eisenband of PGATour.com. “It's pretty open. We have minimal rough, so it's got a really nice big open feel, which is why it's so good for a tournament. It's easier than most golf courses would be to put light trucks in place. We're not going through woods and marshes and tons of water.”

The Match will also feature custom golf carts, which should help Woods, who withdrew from last month's Hero World Challenge with plantar fasciitis.

Golf Digest @GolfDigest

The Match carts are 🔥<br><br>See them in more detail: <a href="https://t.co/YUKo8XOakA">https://t.co/YUKo8XOakA</a> <a href="https://t.co/6WC1UAph5X">pic.twitter.com/6WC1UAph5X</a>

As for, you know, the match itself, it will be a 12-hole competition of match play. Each team will receive a point when it wins a hole, with the most points after 12 deciding the winner.

Theoretically, though, the event could end well before all 12 holes are played.

If, for example, one team has a 4-1 lead and five holes have been tied, the other team cannot draw even over the final two holes.

The Match will also feature a best-ball format, which means that only the lowest score from each team will count on a given hole. This means that, hypothetically, Wood could triple-bogey a hole and still win if McIlroy's score beats those of Thomas and Spieth.

This is perhaps one reason why the odds are fairly close to even. Spieth and Thomas may be the more complete team—Woods is banged up and no longer in his prime—but one of them still has to outplay McIlroy.

And as with all iterations of The Match, this is first and foremost a charity event. The Match VII will serve as a platform to benefit Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

It's going to be an entertaining experience and for a good cause, so fans should be sure to tune in this Saturday.

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