Battle At The Bridges - Views of Smiles, Smokes, Bombs and Grimaces

Photos By David Vier and Jeffrey A. Rendall; Text and Captions By Jeffrey A. Rendall


RANCHO SANTA FE, CA – Several adjectives pop up when you hear the phrase ‘Made for TV.’  First is fake; next is frivolous; then cheap; how about waste (as in waste of time); and rounding it out, bogus.


At least that’s how I felt when I first read about an idea a few years back to feature a ‘Made for TV’ golf match pitting Tiger Woods versus David Duval, set in prime time, focusing on on-course commentating and formatted for the golfing audience, but also those who might not watch the sport on a regular basis.


Oh no… another sappy ‘feel good’ show designed to introduce golf to the lowest common denominator primetime audience.  Not in golf -- no way.


Thankfully, it didn’t evolve that way.


What’s now known as the ‘Battle’ series has turned into a mid-summer golf special worth watching (and, as we discovered this year, worth attending).


Subsequent years brought changes in venues as well as a variety of players, such as Ernie Els, Jack Nicklaus, Sergio Garcia and even top LPGA golfers Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam – all competing in match-play formats for charity prize money as well as a healthy pay-day for the contestants themselves.


Contrary to my first impressions, the matches have been fun and enjoyable to watch.  Golf will never supplant Monday Night Football in terms of sheer hype and action packed entertainment, but the ‘Battle’ set-ups and different players have kept things interesting – and me wanting to watch the annual presentations.


This year saw another line-up change, as well as a new twist to the event, for the second playing of ‘The Battle At The Bridges,’ sponsored by Lincoln Financial (the event was played at Bighorn Golf Club from 2000-2002).  In addition to the straight-up match between the participants, there was a ‘long ball’ theme and four long-drive holes, where the biggest tee shot of the group would win the ‘team’ $75,000 to donate to the respective players’ favorite charities (a total of $300,000).


And who better to match-up than four of the longest hitters in golf?  Of course there was world #1 Tiger Woods and Masters winner Phil Mickelson (a member at The Bridges) from last year – and new for 2004 was perennial crowd favorite John Daly and 2003 PGA Tour driving distance champion Hank Kuehne.


Tiger Woods was paired with Kuehne, and Mickelson with Daly – and the four competed for a total of $1.4 million, $1 million to the winners.


Results?  Tiger and Hank overcame a two-hole deficit to win by two – but the Daly/Mickelson team swept the long drive holes, with all the charity money.  You could easily say, everybody won.


That’s the way it should be for an event of this type – it’s a lot of good fun, a dose of healthy competition, and mostly good entertainment for the spectators and viewers.  The setting is breathtaking – The Bridges is a very exclusive club just north of San Diego, and though it’s quite a challenge to walk (as a spectator), provides a pretty solid backdrop for the players, fans and TV audience.


Here’s a taste of what we saw, and we hope to make it out again next year:

Teammates John Daly and Phil Mickelson discuss strategy before teeing off on a par four. As if it was in question, Daly decides to pull driver.

Tiger Woods and caddy Steve Williams follow the flight on Tiger's 2nd shot to the par five 1st hole. The Bridges' impressive clubhouse is in the background.

Hank Kuehne was the least heralded member of The Battle's player cast, but his athletic form still wowed the onlookers.

John Daly displays perfect balance on a tee shot.

Phil Mickelson smiles as John Daly ponders his second shot on the par five 7th hole. Daly won three out four of the Battle's long drive holes -- here, with a drive of 345 yards.

Hank Kuehne could only grin and bear it as he watched this tee shot sail into a lake. Kuehne said he was the most nervous he'd ever been during the competition's first few holes, but he settled down late to help his team to victory.

Phil Mickelson couldn't believe this putt didn't go in, and wasn't afraid to show his disbelief.

Tiger Woods' 2004 driving woes continued at The Battle -- here, he's obviously distraught at the sight of another tee shot heading right.

Even during warm-ups, Mickelson shows the concentration that's helped him to his most successful season ever in 2004.

It wasn't all serious -- Mickelson cracks a smile during the heat of The Battle.


Views from the 2004 Lincoln Financial ‘Battle At The Bridges’

The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe

Rancho Santa Fe, California

August 2, 2004


Winners:  Tiger Woods and Hank Kuehne.

For More information on The Bridges, try

Thanks to the folks at IMG for helping us attend, as well as Steve Brener for his assistance at the event.

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