By Teddy Brenner

Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley entered the day as underdogs, but won The Match: Champions for Change 4 & 3 thanks to Mickelson’s veteran leadership and Chuck’s revamped swing.

After losing the first hole to Peyton Manning and Steph Curry at Stone Canyon in the Arizona desert, Mickelson and Barkley regrouped and got moving, winning four-straight holes to take a 3 up lead. Barkley, known for his glitchy swing, surprised announcers, viewers and competitors with the debut of his smooth(er) swing during the third installment of The Match.

Mickelson and Barkley led 4 up three separate times during yesterday’s modified alternate shot match-play charity round. Manning and Curry, while both legends in their respective sports, struggled putting at Stone Canyon, leaving room for the five-time major champion and only pro golfer to save several holes on behalf of team Mickelson/Barkley. Mickelson won The Match on the par-5 15th, the third par 5 Mickelson and Barkley won of the day, with a birdie putt.

“We’re calling him the Round Mound of Up and Down,” Manning said of Barkley, who made a number of nice shots on and around the green. “We were hoping he’d be the Round Mound of Out of Bounds.”

The match lacked the competitive edge seen when Tiger Woods and Tom Brady joined Mickelson and Manning in May. That televised charity match had one pro to one skilled recreational player. It started out as a trash-talking competition, but as the groups approached the back nine, all four players’ competitive edges crept it to add excitement.

While the competitive fire in the holiday weekend match, held on a weekend when the LPGA and PGA Tour were both off, wasn’t the same as it was in the spring, the reason for the televised event was just as important. The money raised went to several different HBCUs around the country to help promote diversity in the game. Manning, who changed hats representing several different HBCUs during The Match, represented Lane College (Jackson, Tennessee), Southern University (New Orleans) and Grambling State (Grambling, Louisiana).

Mickelson owns Stone Canyon and when he and his playing partner were asked after the match if they felt they had a home-course advantage, Barkley snapped back quickly.

“Look, I don’t feel at home on any course,” he said with a smile.