Sunday afternoon saw Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matt Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief Charity Skins game at Seminole Golf Club in Florida.
It was the first LIVE golf event since March.
The event raised more than $5 million for Covid-19 relief.
From the actual match, to the TV coverage and special guests, here are my five takeaways.
1. Live Golf Returns
For the first time since May 12, live golf returned to television and boy was it nice to have back.
Things were not perfect, some of the players shots were not crisp, and the TV angles were limited, but it was nice to have live golf on TV.
Guess what? We get to do it again next weekend with the Tiger Woods – Phil Mickelson match featuring Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
In a time where other sports leagues are looking for ways to get back and finish off their seasons in some way, it is the PGA Tour, Nascar and UFC who are leading the way back and showing these other leagues ways to do it.
2. The Ending
McIlroy and Johnson won the match in a playoff over Fowler and Wolff.
However, the playoff was a closest to the pin contest from a shortened 17th hole (they played it from 125).
Johnson and Fowler’s shots did not hit the green while Wolff put his ball on the dance floor, just below the flag stick.
McIlroy then put his tee shot about pin high, but it was hard to tell from the broadcast how much closer McIlroy’s ball was than Wolff’s.
So Fowler and Wolff had led almost the entire match, were in complete control, and then lost it all on a closest to the pin contest in a playoff.
I am not sure if there were specific time constraints on the match for TV purposes, or if they were simply just racing against daylight, but the ending left a lot to be desired.
3. Trash Talk
One aspect of this match that was intended to be fascinating was the trash talk between the players.
All four of them were mic’d up, you could see the battery packs on their waist bands.
There were a few highlights, like Wolff asking Johnson if it was a waste bunker, referring to Johnson’s mistake in at Whistling Straits several years back that you could argue cost him the tournament.
There were other instances, like when McIlroy made a putt and he went at Wolff about how that putt was nothing because he had won two FedExCup’s etc..
Overall, I thought a lot of the conversation between the players went by the wayside because of the broadcast and there wasn’t a ton of trash talk between them.
We will see what next week’s match brings.
4. Players Carrying Bags
As someone who carries their own bag on occasion, it was cool to see these players, who are worth millions an millions of dollars carrying their own bags and walking 18 holes.
Despite some speculation, that won’t be the case once the Tour returns in June as caddies will be allowed.
But, for this one round, this one match, I think the average golfers, the weekend golfers, can appreciate these guys carrying their own bags – and even wearing shorts.
At least that is the vibe I got from social media and from various texts.
5. Bill Murray & Donald Trump
Two of the worst parts of the broadcast was the appearance of actor Bill Murray and the call-in by President Donald Trump.
Murray will be forever tied to the game of golf because of the movie Caddyshack, and the fact that he is an avid golfer. But, his Skype appearance was kind of brutal.
First, his Skype was completely crooked and second he and Mike Tirico talking about their respective golf games just took away from the broadcast of the actual match.
Following Murray, Trump called in to discuss the return of golf and sports during the coronavirus era.
In my personal opinion, mixing politics and sports almost never works well. There certainly have been moments where it has, but in this case it didn’t.
Folks were tuning into this to get their minds off the current situation, not think more about it.
Also, it was awkward when Trump started talking about playing golf with Rory McIlroy after McIlroy said earlier this week that he would never play golf with Trump again due to the President’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Tirico didn’t bring that point up during the interview.