Rory McIlroy hit the match-ending shot on a day in which there were no losers.
McIlroy won the closest to the hole competition on a playoff hole to earn six skins and $1.1 million to lift himself and teammate Dustin Johnson to an 11-7 victory over Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff on Sunday during the TaylorMade Driving Relief at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida.
McIlroy landed his ball 5-feet closer to the cup than Wolff on a shortened 120-yard version of the 17th hole, ending the four-player skins match held to provide aid during the coronavirus pandemic.
Team McIlory earned $1.85 million for the American Nurses Foundations, while Fowler and Wolff racked up $1.15 million for the CDC Foundation.
Overall, more than $5.5 million was raised, including more than $1.05 million by television viewers.
“When you’re not playing for your own money, and you’re playing for someone else’s or another cause, it starts to weigh on you a little bit,” McIlroy said during the NBC broadcast. “It is nice to see D.J. and I are up there with our birdie putts.”
Social distancing rules were in place, golfers carried their own bags and there were very few people on the course as the foursome competed along the Atlantic Ocean.
Wolff went first on the decisive hole and placed his shot 18 feet, 2 inches from the cup. Fowler and Johnson were both off the mark before McIlroy quickly stepped up to hit the shot that landed 13 feet from the hole.
It might not have been the final hole of the Masters or U.S. Open but the situation did get McIlroy’s juices churning.
“There’s still a little pressure there,” McIlroy told NBC. “Matt hit a decent shot but it’s only 120 yards and it’s a tough shot. So to see it land on the green and stay there — these Seminole greens, the ball can do funny things when you think it is in a good spot.
“Really happy, it was an awesome day.”
After the shot was ruled the winner, McIlory kept with the theme of the event by exchanging an “air five” with Johnson.
Johnson was happy with the victory and excited to be on the course after the PGA Tour’s two-month hiatus. But he might have been more thrilled about the money raised.
“Not only donating but just how much is raised from the people watching and calling in,” Johnson told NBC. “It’s incredible what we did. Obviously, it’s very nice to be part of something so cool.
“Yeah, to get back out and play golf again, a little bit competitive, it was a lot of fun.”
McIlroy and Johnson had a 5-1 skins lead through eight holes before Fowler and Wolff scored three skins by prevailing on the ninth hole. Fowler’s birdie putt on 11 was worth two skins to push his team into the lead.
Fowler recorded another birdie on 12 for a 7-5 edge.
“It’s just fun being out here, being able to play golf, play with some of our close friends for a really good cause, or multiple causes, but all kind of central around COVID relief,” Fowler said afterward. “Yeah, it’s all a bonus just being able to play golf, a good heated battle. We had some fun. … But we’re out here because of something a lot bigger than golf.”