World No.1 Rory McIlroy celebrated a 31st birthday by declaring next fortnight’s COVID-19 charity fundraiser will be under the strictest guidelines ever before witnessed at a professional level.
McIlroy will team with former World No. 1 Dustin Johnson taking on the duo of Rickie Fowler and exciting young US pro Matthew Wolff in an 18-hole $US4m TaylorMade Driving Relief event on Sunday, 17th May at the ultra-exclusive Seminole Golf Club course at Juno Beach in Florida.
United Health Group has offered $3m in helping raise money and awareness for the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation, two US organisations helping to lead COVID-19 relief efforts. Another $1m is being pledged by Farmers Insurance to back a birdies-and-eagle pool to benefit ‘Off Their Plate’, a charitable organisation helping COVID-19 healthcare workers and impacted frontline shift employees.
McIlroy was at his palatial Bear’s Club home celebrating his birthday in speaking of the event.
“I have not hit a golf ball in seven weeks until late last week when I got out to hit a few golf balls,” he said.
“So, I will be trying to get myself ready for this match I am playing on May 17th. I am pretty excited about it and pretty excited to be able to do a small part to raise some money and raise some awareness in these really challenging times.
“I will partner Dustin Johnson while Rickie will have Matthew Wolff as his partner – Matthew is one of the most exciting talents out there right now.
“DJ and I will be playing for the American Nurses Foundation while Ricky and Matt will be playing for the CVD Foundation while the $3m will go towards those very worthy causes.
“It’s going to be played at Seminole Golf Club here in Florida which is one of the most revered golf courses in the world, so it promises to be a great day.”
“I think golf can return to doing things like this. We can practice social distancing when we play by keeping in different motorised carts and stay more than six-feet from each other as that will be very important, too.
“So, we will be taking all the necessary precautions to be able to put this match on.”
McIlroy and Johnson were later connected in a Zoom hook-up with the Golf Channel, with Johnson revealing he has spoken to McIlroy in hopefully teaming-up for the New Classic of New Orleans before news the April 23-26 event was cancelled.
“I’m happy Rory is my teammate for sure as we have played a lot of golf,” said Johnson.
“I spoke to Rory about he and I playing down in New Orleans next year. So, I have played enough with him and I think we will be a good team. We will have a tough match against Fowler and Wolff as they are two really good players.”
McIlroy added: “It’s funny as DJ rang me the week after the Players Championship saying he was out on his boat and he said: “Hey? If the New Orleans tournament happens would you want to be partners? I said, sure but I was not sure it was going to happen and if does, then that would be fun.
“So, we didn’t get the chance to do it at New Orleans but we will get the chance in two weeks time.”
McIlroy, Johnson and Fowler are no strangers to Seminole despite its privacy with all three competing regularly in the club’s annual ‘Pro-Member’, traditionally held the Monday following the Honda Classic.