Stakes were high on the final tee box as live golf made its return to TV on Sunday.
Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy paired up against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff for a charity skins match in the first live U.S. golf broadcast since the PGA Tour shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through 18 holes, $1.1 million remained unclaimed.
Through 17, the Fowler/Wolff pairing held the money lead with $1.15 million in skins won against McIlroy/Johnson’s $750,000. But as six $100,000 skins carried over to a $500,000 final hole, bragging rights and a lot of money for their respective charities remained on the line.
Johnson and McIlroy each had birdie putts on 18 to claim the final $1.1 million, but neither player connected, meaning the money remained up for grabs in a 19th-hole shootout.
High stakes for closest to the pin
The players returned to the 120-yard 17th at Juno Beach, Florida’s Seminole Golf Club for a closest-to-the-pin challenge to claim the final prize.
Wolff stuck his shot within 15 feet to set the standard. Fowler missed the green, as did Johnson, meaning world No. 1 McIlroy had one shot for the prize. He lived up to his lofty status, landing his shot pin-high to claim the final seven skins of the match.
The win was the first skin for the pairing since the sixth hole and pushed McIlroy/Johnson to $1.85 million in skins for the day to surge past Fowler/Wolff’s $1.15 million.
More than $5.5M raised
McIlroy and Johnson played for the American Nurses Foundation while Fowler and Wolff played for the CDC Foundation, both of which came up big winners on the day. Between a $450,000 long-drive bonus won by Fowler/Wolff, $1 million in birdie bonuses and more than $1 million donated by viewers, the match raised more than $5.5 million, according to Golf Channel.
The match also acted as a teaser for the official return of PGA golf when the tour is scheduled to start back up with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Fort Worth, Texas, on June 11. It will be the first Tour event since golf shut down for the coronavirus pandemic in the middle of The Players Championship in March.
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