Saturday's seventh edition of The Match -- this one featuring Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas -- should be as entertaining as golf gets at this time of the year. That quartet hasn't been playing a ton, but these exhibition events are more about the interaction than the golf anyway, and the interaction should be phenomenal.
Woods and McIlroy will take on Spieth and Thomas at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday at Pelican Golf Club (). The latter pair is favored, which led Thomas to joke Wednesday in a conference call that the sharps totally know what they're doing when it comes to setting the lines.
There is plenty to be excited about when it comes to this particular event -- perhaps Woods' return to golf for the first time since July's Open Championship most of all -- and even though this best-ball match will only last 12 holes, it should be terrifically entertaining. Here are four things I'll be looking for when the festivities get underway on Saturday.
1. Tiger's health: There are a lot of very not serious items to tick off on Saturday night at Pelican, but Tiger's health is not one of them. He withdrew from last week's Hero World Challenge with plantar fasciitis and casually mentioned that he'd had other procedures earlier this year. He has insisted that he'll be fine as long as he has a golf cart (he will Saturday), but I'm mildly dubious about his overall mobility.
There should not be (although there undoubtedly will be) any extrapolations made about next year's major championships based on the 50 or so shots Woods hits at this event, but it's been five months since we've seen him swing a golf club competitively. That's not nothing, and the best swing of all time -- whether it is affected by the myriad ailments Tiger feels in the rest of his body -- will be under a microscope over the next 10 days (here and at the PNC Championship where he will tee it up with his son, Charlie).
2. Who is the best trash talker? Back to the more insouciant topics. There was debate on Wednesday about this. Tiger said he was limited in terms of the vocabulary he could use. Rory said he knows J.T. thinks he's the best talker. J.T. and Spieth said they were so outclassed when it comes to wins and majors that they might have to take the nice guy route instead of going right at two guys with a combined 19 major championships. (Spieth and J.T. have five.) Banter at events like these is normally neutered, but hopefully the fellas get a little loose, and we get some top-notch one-liners.
3. Night golf: Spieth spoke about how he's never played night golf before and how much he was looking forward to doing so. I am equally excited about some primetime East Coast golf in the winter. Normally, when golf is televised at these times, it's on the West Coast, but this event should feel a little bigger than normal because it's under the lights. I don't know that this will affect the outcome (unless the lights on the carts malfunction for some reason), but it does add to the festivities a bit.
4. Best match ever: Up to this point, the most collective majors at a match like this one was 21 (Tiger and Phil Mickelson, multiple times). This group has 24 combined, and it represents the most collective talent at any of the seven official matches to date. Granted, 15 of those came from the guy who hasn't played in five months, but three of the other players are among the 15 best in the world right now. If this thing is close late -- and it likely will be -- the battle for a meaningless victory certainly won't feel like just another exhibition.