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New event to fight sports stars in matchplay battles

It’s Team USA and Freddie Couples versus Team Rest of the World and Ernie Els.

Courtesy Icons Series

Looking for something New in the golf world? Who isn’t these days?

Fred Couples, Ernie Els and a host of world-class athletes from sports other than golf aim to deliver just that next week with the Icons Series debut event, June 30-July 1 at Liberty National GC across the Hudson River from the Downtown Manhattan.

The Icons Series is a Presidents Cup-style event that pits a mix of 12 current and former brand athletes from the United States against their international counterparts in a six-day duel. Couples and Els will lead each squad.

Who is in the field?

Team USA: Michael Phelps (former Olympic swimmer), Michael Strahan (former NFL Defense End), Ben Rothlisberger (NFL quarterback), JR Smith (former NBA guard), John Smoltz (former MLB pitcher), Andrew Whitworth (former NFL tackle), Ivan Rodriguez (former MLB catcher), Reggie Bush (former NFL running back), Robbie Gould (NFL kicker), Marshall Falk (former NFL running back), golden deed (former NFL wide receiver turned minor league baseball player)

Michael Phelps in 2018.

Getty Images

Team Rest of the World: Harry Kane (premier league soccer player), Canelo Alvarez (Mexican boxers), Ash Barty (Australian tennis player), pep Guardiola (Premier League Coach), From de Villiers (South African cricketer), Brian Lara (formerly Trinidad cricketer), Ricky Ponting (former Australian cricketer), James Milner (First League soccer player), George Gregan (Australian rugby player), Yuvraj Singh (former Indian cricketer)

Harry Kane, the star striker of Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur.

Getty Images

Astute observers will note that only 11 players are named on the US team and 10 on the international side. The remaining players will be added to each team in the coming days.

“These guys are all really good golfers,” said Els Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz this week in an interview that will appear on next week’s episode of Subpar. “Some of these guys are scratch golfers. We’ll see how seriously they take it. Because they are so competitive in their sport, I think that competitiveness will prevail as the tournament progresses. I don’t think anyone wants to lose in this one.”

Where will it take place?

Liberty National. The 2017 Presidents Cup venue, which also hosted the FedEx Cup playoff events, is once again hosting a team competition. Will this be as big a hit as the US-dominated Cup ’17? Unlikely! But we’ll have to see how Freddie’s team handles the pressure. The event takes place on June 30th and July 1st, with a practice day on June 29th.

What is the format?

The six-session series takes place over two days, with three 10-hole matchplay sessions per day and the event culminating in head-to-head one-on-one matches. You read that right: 10-Hole Match Play sessions. This means teams will not compete on the Liberty National layout as we know it. Check out the customized course map below:

The 10 hole setup for the Icons Series at Liberty National.

Courtesy Icons Series

Day 1 begins and ends with five four-ball matches, where the best score of each player tandem is the team score. Between the fourball sessions, there is a greensomes session, which is similar to the foursomes. It differs from Greensomes in that each player hits a tee-shot and the two-player teams choose their favorite tee-ball and play alternate-shot from there. Day 2 follows the same format except for the third session which will feature 12 crucial singles games.

How can I view it?

Viewers at home can get in the mood for the action on day two of the games – that’s Friday, July 1 – when the broadcast streams on NBC’s Peacock app from 2:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

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Am I allowed to participate?

Indeed you can. Fans in the New York City area who want to see the action in person can do so with compound tickets, which cost $25 per day or $40 for a two-day pass. Spectators under the age of 17 get free entry with a paying ticket holder.

why should i watch

Um, did you see the lineups? There are athletes representing almost every major sport: NFL, MLB, NBA, tennis, boxing, Premier League football, even cricket! The match-play format also changes things up a bit. We’re used to athletes and celebrities competing in stroke play pro-ams. Now we’ll see them compete as teammates in a match-play format in front of fans and cameras on a pitch very different from the one they’ve dominated for years. The nervousness alone should be reason enough to get involved.

Is this the start of something bigger?

That is the plan. The Icons Series aims to host future events in Australia, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. No dates have been announced for these pages, but they are coming.

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