The four were competing in the Team US vs. Team Europe exhibition match to mark the opening Payne’s Valley Golf Course at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri — the first public golf course designed by Woods’ TGR Design firm.
Woods and Thomas represented the US, while McIlroy and Rose featured for Europe.
All four competitors have been world No. 1s, are major champions, have won the FedExCup and have been part of victorious Ryder Cup teams.
The teams competed over 19 holes and three different formats — six holes of four-ball, six of alternate shots and seven of singles play. Team Europe won the first point after six holes of foursomes, but Team US won one point themselves in the alternate shot format, with Rose then beating Woods and Thomas defeating McIlroy in the singles.
The 19th bonus hole doubled up as a closest-to-the-pin decider to settle the contest — with two all-time greats, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, also playing — after it finished in a 2-2- draw. Thomas hit the closest tee shot to secure the victory for Team US.
And while fans tuned in to see some excellent golf, it turned out to be the conversations and joking between the players that stole the show.
After learning about Thomas and Rose’s struggles to sleep, viewers were treated to the players ribbing each other when one made a mistake — led by Thomas — and learning about McIlroy’s pizza passion.
After Rose hooked a drive way off to the left on the third hole, 2017 PGA Championship winner Thomas could be heard saying: “That’s got to be 150 yards off line.”
Later on the 14th, after a putt from McIlroy clipped the lip but agonizingly rolled out, Thomas consolidated the Northern Irishman, saying: “You hate to see it.”
McIlroy did bite back later, saying he was supposed to give Thomas a lift home, but if he kept on talking, that might change.
Thomas also complained about Woods having his name on their shared ball, referring to the 15-time major winner as “dumb-dumb.”
It wasn’t all trash talk between the group though. Fans were given an insight into the level of detail players go into when they prepare their game.
On the very first hole, Woods and Rose could be heard discussing about shafts and backswings. McIlroy explained to Rose and Thomas how his new hybrid club spins less than the other ones he tried.
And while it was good to see the professionals relax, the PGA Tour season soon ramps up, with the CJ Cup — where Thomas is the reigning champion — and the Zozo Championship — Woods won in 2019 — taking place in October before the rescheduled Masters in November.