Sunday Golf Skins Game Provided Sports Fans Much-Needed Relief, McIlroy Clutch in Sudden Death

Posted on: May 18, 2020, 09:44h. 

Last updated on: May 18, 2020, 10:49h.

The TaylorMade Driving Relief charity skins game on Sunday was the first live golf broadcast since the first round of The Players Championship March 12. That was the game’s so-called “Fifth Major” that was canceled prior to Round 2 by COVID-19.

skins game coronavirus Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy celebrates after hitting the winning shot during Sunday’s skins game that benefited COVID-19 relief organizations. (Image: NBC Sports

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy teamed up with No. 5 Dustin Johnson to take on Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, respectively ranked No. 27 and No. 110. McIlroy and DJ were the clear favorites to win the most skins for their charities, oddsmakers listing them at -180. Fowler and Wolff were the underdogs at +140.

McIlroy and Johnson got off to a hot start, winning three of the first six holes. But Fowler rolled in birdie after birdie to keep things more than interesting, and heading into No. 13, he and Wolff were leading 7-5 in skins.

The final six holes were halved, leading to a carryover sudden death closest-to-the-pin shootout for six skins, $1.18 million, and the match victory. Johnson and Fowler both missed the green, while McIlroy narrowly edged Wolff for the victory.

Bettors who put $100 on Rory-Dustin netted $55.56.

Relief in More Ways Than One

Golf fans often spend their Sunday afternoons on the couch watching the PGA Tour. But like every other sport in the country, the tour has been put on hold.

“I’m proud to be part of an event to entertain people at home on a Sunday afternoon and to raise money for people who need it,” McIlroy said. He and Johnson raised $1.85 million for the American Nurses Foundation. Fowler and Wolff raised $1.15 million for the CDC Foundation.

President Donald Trump called in during the skins game telecast.

It’s a wonderful thing to see,” Trump told NBC’s Mike Tirico from Camp David. “I’m getting a little tired of watching 10-year-old golf tournaments where you know who won.”

“We need sports in terms of the psyche, the psyche of our country,” the President continued. “I think some tremendous things are going to be coming out very soon. The country is ready to start moving forward.”

FanDuel was happy to report an increase in golf betting. The sportsbook said Sunday’s skins game handle was “nearly double that of a normal PGA Tour event.”

More Coming

Sunday’s match was the first of two back-to-back Sunday star-studded made-for-TV golf events.

On May 24, Tiger Woods will partner with Peyton Manning to take on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. “The Match: Champions for Charity” tees off at 3 p.m. ET.

The front nine will be a better ball of partners, and the back nine a modified alternate shot. The match will be played at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, not far from Woods’ mansion on Jupiter Island. Manning carries a USGA handicap index of 6.4, while Brady plays to an 8.1.

Woods/Manning are the favorites at -230, and Mickelson/Brady at +280. A $100 winning bet respectively nets $43.48 and $280.

Though they will have partners Sunday, this is the second special match between Woods and Mickelson. In November of 2018, Lefty upset Tiger in Las Vegas in a winner-take-all $9 million event dubbed “The Match.” The spectacle was held at MGM Resorts’ Shadow Creek Golf Course.