Rory McIlroy (right) will team up with Dustin Johnson to take on American duo Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in a $3 million charity skins match at the Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach on May 17. AFP
The TaylorMade Driving Relief event will take place on May 17 at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida, a joint statement said.
The competition will follow strict social distancing guidelines and use appropriate testing measures to help protect the health of those involved.
“I hope we can provide some respite and entertainment for those tuning in across the globe. Dustin and I will have a lot of fun together and our games will fit well as we push to raise funds and awareness,” world number one McIlroy said.
All proceeds will go towards COVID-19 relief efforts, with McIlroy and Johnson playing for the American Nurses Foundation and Fowler and Wolff playing for the CDC Foundation.
“We’re excited about the safe and responsible return of live golf and the opportunity to raise significant funds for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic through the TaylorMade Driving Relief event,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.
The event will be broadcast by the PGA Tour, NBC Sports and Sky Sports PGA TOUR, NBC Sports and Sky Sports.
All four players have endorsements and relationships with the groups involved. Farmers Insurance has pledged $1 million for a birdies-and-eagle pool to benefit “Off Their Plate,” which supports COVID-19 health care workers. PGA Tour Charities will have a “text-to-donate” online program for viewers to pledge additional money.
It will be the first live golf since the pandemic shut down sports worldwide seven weeks ago. And it will be the first time that Seminole, the Donald Ross course in South Florida, has a televised event.
Seminole is located on a tiny tract along the Atlantic Ocean in Juno Beach, designed in such a manner that nearly every shot faces a slightly different wind direction. It has never been ranked out of the top 20 on Golf Digest’s list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” since the ranking began in 1966.
Mike Tirico will provide commentary from his home in Michigan, while analysts such as Paul Azinger will work from an off-site production set. Two TV reporters will be on the course.
The European Tour also announced a series of virtual tournaments on Monday that will kick off on May 9 to aid coronavirus relief efforts.
Players including Martin Kaymer, Joost Luiten, Mike Lorenzo Vera, Lee Westwood and Bernd Wiesberger will take part from their own homes in tournaments played virtually on some of Europe’s most iconic courses.
The golf calendar has been severely impacted by the outbreak, with three of the sport’s four majors re-scheduled and the British Open cancelled.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are to play an exhibition match with NFL greats Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, though details such as the date and the course have yet to be announced.
Official golf is not expected to return until June 11-14 at Colonial in Texas, although the tour is still trying to work out details on essential personnel and testing that would be required.
Live golf was last seen on TV on March 12, the first round of The Players Championship. The tour first decided to eliminate fans, and then that night after the first round canceled the rest of the tournament. More tournaments subsequently were canceled or postponed.
Golf courses in Palm Beach County, where all four players live, were closed until late last week. McIlroy, who turned 31 on Monday, said on NBC’s “Today” show that he went seven weeks without playing until getting out to the range last week.
McIlroy returned to No. 1 in the world in February and has been there a total of 100 weeks. Johnson has been No. 1 a total of 91 weeks. Of active players, only Woods (683) has been at No. 1 more often.
Fowler is one of the game’s more appealing players, while Wolff is regarded as one of the more explosive young stars. The 21-year-old from California won his first PGA Tour event a month after leaving Oklahoma State.
It will be an early preview for Seminole, which next year is to host the Walker Cup. The course is where Ben Hogan used to prepare for the Masters, and it’s best known in golf circles for its Pro Member event that for years has attracted some of the best tour players. Several club members also belong to clubs like Augusta National and Shinnecock Hills.
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