Could there be a bigger accolade than Seminole Head Pro Bob Ford labelling Rory McIlroy ‘Our Arnold Palmer, our Tiger Woods … He’s the king of the PGA Tour and the world tour for that matter’.
In June 2017, Ford was honoured by the USGA with their highest honour, the Bob Jones Award, having began his distinguished career at Oakmont Country Club in 1975 and retiring in 2016, before then moving to Seminole to become the full-time head pro where he has spent his winters since 2000.
McIlroy’s got to know Ford well with the Ulsterman’s father, Gerry a member of the club while many of the game’s leading lights who have played Seminole will know also that since 2017, Ford has been the U.S. Open’s first hole official starter.
Ford also is kept busy hosting a shot on Sirius XM Radio and he spoke highly of McIlroy soon after the announcement that McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff will be teeing-up on Sunday May 17th in a Coronavirus-related fundraiser.
The $4m ($1m to be donated by Farmers Insurance) exhibition match will help raise money for the American Nurses Foundation and the CDC Foundation, two organisations that have played a frontline role in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
Ford spoke of his excitement in knowing McIlroy will be teeing-up in the event, the first major tournament since the cancellation on the evening of March 12th of the PGA Tour’s flagship Players Championship.
“Right now, he’s our Arnold Palmer,” said Ford.
“He’s our Tiger Woods. He’s the king of the PGA Tour and the world tour for that matter. He’s the No.1 draw and the No.1 player but he also does all the right things. He ticks all the boxes.
“But he’s not doing this just to ‘do the right thing’. He believes in this. He knows what a crisis it is and he’s stepping up. He’s been a big player in getting the other guys to play. Everybody’s bored out of their minds and haven’t played much golf, so they’ll be a little rusty but I expect a good show from these guys.”
And McIlroy spoke at the announcement of his excitement in teaming with Johnson on the famed Donald Ross designed course.
“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,” said McIlroy.
“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.
“The great thing as well is that it will be the first time TV cameras will be allowed on Seminole, so everyone will now get to see how special Seminole is.”