Different Strokes: Rory McIlroy to pair up with Dustin Johnson for Covid-19 fundraiser

Duo will take on Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in Florida on May 17th

Move over Tiger and Phil. Rory McIlroy marked his 31st birthday by confirming he will team-up with Dustin Johnson in a behind closed doors made for television showdown against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in a team skins match on Sunday, May 17th to raise funds for Covid-19 relief efforts.

The $3 million match is set for Seminole Country Club in Florida (where McIlroy is a member) and, as much as the match itself, it will let television viewers to get to see one of the most exclusive golfing layouts in the United States.

McIlroy, in a statement, observed: “It’s been difficult to witness what so many are enduring over the last several weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 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.”

With TaylorMade (who sponsor the four players) behind the initiative, UnitedHealth Group has pledged $3 million in charity skins with proceeds going to the nominated charities of the players: American Nurses Foundation (McIlroy and Johnson) and CDC Foundation (Fowler and Wolff). A further $1 million has been pledged by Farmers Insurance for a birdies and eagles pool to benefit healthcare workers. The match will be screened on Sky Sports.

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LPGA take safety first approach for return to action

While the PGA Tour kicks on with its move to reboot at next month's Charles Schwab Challenge at the famed Colonial Country Club, those on the LPGA Tour – among them Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow – will have to bide their time a little longer.

Tentatively, the restart to the women’s professional circuit stateside will get going at the Dow Great Lakes Invitational in Michigan in mid-July followed by the Marathon LPGA Tour Classic in Ohio and then the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey, although nothing, it would seem, is set in stone.

As LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan put it, "being first has never been the goal when it comes to returning to play in this new normal. We have built a schedule that we think is as safe as possible given when we know about travel bans, testing availability and delivering events that our sponsors and out athletes will be excited to attend . . . we are certainly aware that restarting our season will required a continued improvement [in the states concerned]."

Interestingly, though, the LPGA Tour has left in place a chunk of the autumn to its odyssey over to Europe which is scheduled to take in the Evian Championship in France and then the Scottish Open and the Women’s British Open. The Evian, a Major championship on the LPGA schedule, remains in the itinerary despite the fact France has banned all sporting events until September. As far as tournaments resuming in Scotland? Well, that is still very much up in the air.

The curtailed LPGA Tour may still be evolving, but at least the late-season events will feature enhanced purses – averaging almost $2.7million – after those sponsors of events cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic released some of the prizemoney to go towards those later events.

By the Numbers: 4-6-19-1-2-9-26-3-1-4-3-5-5-5

Since he missed the cut at the British Open at Royal Portrush, Rory McIlroy has had 12 top-10s and 10 top-5s in his move back to world number one.

Know the Rules

Q
After hitting an errant tee shot and seeing her shot splash into water, Player A arrives to the area where the ball has finished up and can see her ball in the hazard. However, she notes to her playing partners that the water hazard stakes have been wrongly replaced by green staff and that the ball is actually inside the stake line and that, as such, it was at rest in temporary water and that she was entitled to relief. Is she correct?

A
No. If stakes defining a body of water as a penalty area are improperly located, a player is not allowed to take advantage of such an error (Rule 17.1a/1 - Ball is in penalty area even if penalty area is improperly marked). So, if a ball is found in an expanse of water that, because of the configuration of the ground, is clearly part of the penalty area but is outside the stakes and, thus, technically outside the penalty area, the player may not claim that the ball at rest is in temporary water since a penalty area includes any body of water on the course, whether or not marked by the committee.