McIlroy, Johnson headline COVID-19 charity event

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A televised fundraiser for COVID-19 relief involving Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff will give fans their first live golf to watch since the sport was shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Called the TaylorMade Driving Relief, the event will be played at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla., and pit McIlroy and Johnson against Fowler and Wolff in a team skins game.

It will air live on NBC-TV and will also be streamed for free.

McIlroy and Johnson will play for the American Nurses Foundation while Fowler and Wolff will play for the CDC Foundation. UnitedHealth Group pledged $3 million in charity skins. Farmers Insurance pledged an additional $1 million for a birdies and eagles pool to benefit Off Their Plate, which helps COVID-19 healthcare workers.

“It’s been difficult to witness what so many are enduring over the last several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” McIlroy said in a statement. “I hope that 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 on May 17.”

The PGA Tour shutdown on March 12, after one round of the Players Championships, and subsequently canceled or postponed numerous events.

It has released a revised schedule that is to begin June 11 with the Charles Schwab Cup in Forth Worth, Texas, with the first four events to be played without spectators.

Another charity match has been scheduled for Memorial Day weekend involving Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, although full details have yet to be announced.

“We are 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,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

In addition to the $4 million in fundraising initiatives, PGA Tour Charities will announce a “text-to-donate” and online donation platform to allow viewers to make additional contributions.

The event is scheduled to air from 2-6 p.m. ET on NBC, GolfChannel, NBCSN and SkySports.

An added benefit is getting to see Seminole, a Donald Ross-designed course typically ranked among America’s best. A live golf event has never been broadcast from the course. Spectators will not be permitted.

According to the PGA Tour, the event will follow strict social distancing guidelines, local mandates and “will utilize appropriate testing measures to help protect the health and safety of the golfers, production crew and others on site.”

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