Rickie Fowler plays a shot during the TaylorMade Driving Relief on May 17, 2020 in Juno Beach, Fla.
The team of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy held off 2016 Olympian Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff Sunday, though no one went home losers as the foursome raised more than $5.5 million for COVID-19 relief as part of their charity skins match.
Dubbed TaylorMade Driving Relief, the event saw the golfers play a skins match across 18 holes at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida. In a skins match, each hole is assigned a set amount of prize money, and whoever wins the hole takes the pot. If the scores on a given hole are tied, the prize money carries over to the next hole.
The main skins match was worth $3 million, with Fowler and fellow American Wolff earning $1,150,000 on behalf of the CDC Foundation. Johnson, also of the U.S., and McIlroy of Northern Ireland were raising money for the American Nurses Foundation, and ended with $1,850,000.
A separate pool of $1 million was up for grabs in the birdies-and-eagle pool to benefit Off Their Plate, an initiative organized by World Central Kitchen to support front-line health care workers and shift workers from affected restaurants. An additional $500,000 was awarded through a long-drive bonus, and viewer donations added an extra $1,053,959.
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In the skins match, each team began with $500,000 for their charity, and they played for the remaining $2 million. The first six holes were valued at $50,000 each. Holes 7 through 16 were each worth $100,000, with 17 worth $200,000 and $500,000 on the line for 18.
However, because of ties, the 18th hole ended up being worth six skins and $1.1 million. And when the teams again remained deadlocked after that, the group headed back to the 17th hole for a closest-to-the-pin contest for the win. There, McIlroy finally clinched it on the final attempt, celebrating with a socially distanced “air five.”
Golf has been contested at the Olympics three times, although it had been more than a century by the time the sport returned in 2016 in Rio. Fowler was one of four U.S. men to qualify, and he finished tied for 37th.
Team USA is currently projected to again have four golfers qualify for the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed to 2021.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.