Rory McIlroy Won, but Golf Shined in Its Live Return

Written by on May 18, 2020

Rory McIlroy stroked the clinching shot in Sunday’s uber-quirky charity golf match — the primary televised aggressive males’s golf in additional than two months — nevertheless it was Dustin Johnson, McIlroy’s teammate within the occasion, who received the day.


Heading down the primary fairway, Johnson ignored the subtle know-how of the fashionable two-strap golf bag and had his golf equipment dealing with backward over one shoulder, as if he had been lugging a sack of laundry. Final week, Johnson conceded he couldn’t bear in mind the final time he carried his personal golf equipment. However he knew it took just one strap.

Then, on the primary inexperienced, Johnson used a golf tee to mark his ball. He couldn’t have channeled the on a regular basis golfer ethos any higher, until maybe he had used a bottle of beer.

Better of all, Johnson performed quicker than quick, hitting lower than 10 seconds after another person’s shot. It often seemed as if Johnson had some other place to be late Sunday afternoon. On one tee, as Rickie Fowler was on the point of hit final, Johnson had already marched at the very least 40 yards towards the outlet.

It was moments like these, when a number of the world’s finest golfers appeared like simply one other weekend foursome — replete with the attendant idiosyncrasies — that the TaylorMade Driving Reduction occasion got here alive.

Or as Invoice Murray, who NBC interviewed throughout the broadcast, mentioned, “They appear virtually human.”

Within the buildup to the match, it was usually steered {that a} televised spherical of golf, an exercise that’s straightforward to interact in whereas adhering to social-distancing tips, could be a welcome distraction for action-starved sports activities followers. However throughout roughly 4 hours on Sunday — when the McIlroy-Johnson crew defeated Fowler and the PGA Tour newcomer Matthew Wolff, and greater than $5 million was raised for coronavirus reduction — the competitors didn’t enchantment as a lot because the camaraderie and sense of group on show.

To golf followers, McIlroy, Johnson and Fowler, and to a lesser extent Wolff, are acquainted figures whose exploits are a part of a Sunday afternoon routine. Besides up to now two months, that’s.

The attraction answered a few questions for these watching at house: What may skilled golf appear to be throughout a pandemic? Are their golf video games as rusty as ours?

The reply to the final query was a particular sure. On one gap on the Seminole Golf Membership in Juno Seaside, Fla., McIlroy flubbed a greenside chip so badly the ball dribbled solely 5 ft away. However within the spirit of the day, Johnson absolved McIlroy by shortly shouting, “I bought you lined, associate.”



The nationwide chorus is “We’re on this collectively.” Golf on Sunday had its little alternative to exemplify the sentiment.

Picture Last week, Dustin Johnson, second from left, conceded he couldn’t remember the last time he carried his own clubs. But he knew it took only one strap.
Credit score…Mike Ehrmann/Getty Pictures

As for what golf throughout a pandemic will appear to be, Sunday’s match wasn’t the right setting for predicting the long run. If the PGA Tour resumes as planned on June 11 on the Charles Schwab Basic in Fort Value, the gamers received’t be carrying shorts, as every golfer did on Sunday. Wolff may not put on the psychedelic-patterned golf footwear he selected in Florida. There will be caddies, regardless of how a lot attraction was added to the occasion each time a millionaire golfer shouldered his personal bag and trudged towards the subsequent shot.

However honestly, with these exceptions and some others, the enjoying of top-flight golf didn’t look an excessive amount of totally different on Sunday. Sure, there have been no followers, which is certainly jarring and under no circumstances an enchancment, however the gamers rolled with it. When Fowler made an enormous putt, he waved to acknowledge an imaginary, cheering crowd.

The absence of spectators, nevertheless, allowed viewers to listen to the banter amongst gamers. It wasn’t nonstop, however there have been some good jabs and trash speaking.

After a wayward drive by Wolff ended up removed from the opposite golfers, McIlroy yelped, “Hey Matt, thanks for doing all your half to social distance.”

Minutes later, Wolff answered by making an attempt to get beneath McIlroy’s pores and skin earlier than a brief however essential putt that McIlroy was sizing up. After his ball dropped within the gap, McIlroy crowed to the 21-year-old Wolff: “I believe you overlook I received two FedEx Cups that totaled at $25 million. That doesn’t faze me, teen.”

In the long run, the match was tied after 18 holes, sending the occasion to a closest-to-the-pin contest on Seminole’s 17th gap that will be price $1.1 million. Fowler, whose wedge play is often glowing, drilled his shot removed from the inexperienced.

Seconds earlier, to save lots of time within the TV broadcast, the gamers climbed into golf carts — the primary time all day — to be whisked to the 17th tee. Conscious that the natural nature of the competitors had been spoiled, or maybe to maintain up the jovial ambiance, Fowler mentioned of his errant shot, “I believe it’s as a result of I rode the cart out right here.”

However Wolff’s shot rolled comparatively close to the outlet. McIlroy ended the competitors by knocking his ball barely nearer to the flagstick. McIlroy raised each arms over his head.

Johnson smiled and walked coolly off the tee. He heaved his golf bag, dealing with backward, onto one shoulder.

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