Rory McIlroy delivered the money shot Sunday as live golf returned to television for a Skins game that revealed plenty of rust and raised more than US$5 million for COVID-19 relief funds.
McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, who had not won a skin since the sixth hole, had a chance to win the final six skins worth $1.1 million on the final hole at Seminole in the TaylorMade Driving Relief exhibition. Both missed and they returned to the par-3 17th for a closest-to-the-pin contest.
From a forward tee at 120 yards, Matthew Wolff was 18 feet below the hole. His partner, Rickie Fowler, missed the green. Johnson found a bunker. Down to the last shot, McIlroy barely stayed on the shelf left of the pin, measured at 13 feet.
“Air five,” McIlroy said, alluding to the social distancing in place at Juno Beach, Florida.
The final carryover gave McIlroy and Johnson $1.85 million for the American Nurses Foundation. Fowler, who made seven birdies, and Wolff made $1.15 million for the CDC Foundation.
“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 as he played the 18th hole.
Wolff, the 21-year-old Californian with big game and plenty of swagger, earned $450,000 toward relief funds by having the longest drives on two par 5s — 356 yards on No. 2 and 368 yards on No. 14.
Fowler’s seven birdies were worth $270,000 in a separate fund from Farmers Insurance, while McIlroy made four birdies in regulation worth $175,000 and Wolff had three birdies for $135,000. Johnson, who showed the most rust, had two birdies for $75,000.
PGA Tour Charities allowed for online donations during the telecast, raising more than $1 million. The donations will continue until Tuesday. When the exhibition ended, more than $5.5 million had been pledged, starting with the $3 million guarantee from UnitedHeath Group.
Players carried their own bags.
Television had a skeleton crew on the grounds — the play-by-play and analysts were 200 miles away in St. Augustine, Florida, while host Mike Tirico was at his home office in Michigan. The match went over four hours, primarily because players were at times held in place to give the six TV cameras time to get in position on the next hole.
Mark Russell, the PGA Tour’s vice-president of of rules and competition, was the only one to handle the flagstick. Bunkers didn’t need to be raked because they were the only match on the course, which closed for the summer last week.
“It was an awesome day,” McIlroy said. “It was nice to get back on the golf course and get back to some sort of normalcy.”
The players wore microphones, though the banter was limited and ended early.
Most of it came from McIlroy, who had to make a short par putt on the second hole for a push. He rolled it in and said to Wolff, “I think you forget I’ve won two FedEx Cups that total $25 million. That doesn’t faze me, youngster.”
Fowler played the best golf and staked his side to the lead with four birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn, including a 20-footer on No. 11 that was worth two skins at $200,000. He raised his finger and McIlroy said, “Did you hear all those cheers?” There were no fans, and fewer than 50 people were at Seminole. All were tested for the new coronavirus.
That was the start of golf’s return.
The last live competition on TV was March 12, the first round of The Players Championship. It was cancelled the next day, along with other tournaments that either were scrapped or postponed.
Next up is another exhibition match on May 24 down the road at Medalist, where Tiger Woods plays when home. Woods and Peyton Manning will face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in a match billed as “Champions for Charity” that will raise $10 million for COVID-19 relief efforts.
The real show is to return on June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. The tour has said it will not allow fans for at least a month, and perhaps longer depending on it goes. Players will have access to charter flights and a designated hotel.
This version corrects birdie totals.
NFL’s Roger Goodell says ‘we were wrong,’ encourages players to protest – Sportsnet.ca
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league was wrong for not listening to players and is encouraging them to speak out and peacefully protest amid demonstrations across the U.S. over systemic racism in response to the death of George Floyd.
In a video posted to social media Friday, the NFL appears to be trying to make amends for the league’s handling of kneeling protests during the national anthem, led by Colin Kaepernick.
“We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people. We the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We the National Football League believe Black lives matter,” Goodell said in the video.
The league also shared a video put out Thursday night in which more than 15 NFL stars said they were asserting their right to peacefully protest and asked the NFL to “admit wrong” in silencing its players.
The league appeared to be responding to its players’ request with Friday’s video.
“I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without Black players, there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of Black players coaches, fans and staff,” Goodell said.
“We are listening, I am listening and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”
Kaepernick sparked a wave of demonstrations across the league in 2016 after he kneeled during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since that season and settled a collusion case with the league last year, saying he was blacklisted because of the protests.
The NFL initially released a statement five days after Floyd’s death that did not mention player protests or racism.
Toronto FC captain says Donald Trump doesn't have 'a moral bone in his body' – CTV News
Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley pulled no punches Thursday, lamenting the “zero leadership” south of the border as the U.S. is ravaged by racial unrest.
The longtime U.S. skipper took square aim at president Donald Trump.
“We have a president who is completely empty. There isn’t a moral bone in his body,” Bradley told a media conference call.
“There’s no leadership. There’s no leadership from the president, there’s no leadership from the Republican senators who have sat back and been totally complicit in everything he’s done for the last 3 1/2 years.”
Bradley urged his fellow Americans to speak with their ballot in November, saying it was “impossible to overstate” the importance of the coming election.
“I just hope that people are able to go to the polls in November and think about more than just what is good for them, more than what is good for their own status, their own business, their own tax return. I hope that people can go to the polls and understand that in so many ways, the future of our country and the future of our democracy is at stake.
“We need as many people as possible to understand that at a real level, to think about what four more years with Trump as president, what that would mean, how terrible that would be for so many people.”
Referencing racial inequality and social injustice, Bradley added: “If we want any chance to start to fix those things, then Trump can’t be president, it’s as simple as that.”
The 32-year-old Bradley has run through the gamut of emotions while watching the violence and unrest unfold in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while three police officers restrained him — one with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
“I’m angry, I’m horrified, I’m sad and I’m determined to do anything and everything I can to try to be a part of the fix,” he said. “Because it has to end. And we all have to be part of that fix.”
He acknowledged that while he has much to learn on the issues, politicians, policy-makers and businesses have to be held accountable.
Bradley has criticized Trump before. In January 2017, he said he was “sad and embarrassed” by Trump’s travel ban aimed at citizens of predominantly Muslim countries.
The TFC captain, while happy to see the MLS labour impasse over, noted there had been “some real difficult moments along the way.” That included a threat of a lockout from the league.
Such tactics “did not sit well with the players,” he said.
He also said there had been a frustrating absence of dialogue right from the beginning of talks, which he acknowledged played out against an unprecedented global threat.
“This, at a certain point for me, was about what’s right and what’s wrong in the middle of the pandemic. And the way to treat people and the way that you look after people. I kept coming back to that idea. That we have all put so much into growing the game in North America, at all levels — ownership, league office, executives coaches, players, fans.
“Everybody is important to what we’re trying to do. To try to dismiss any of the entities that I just named would be short-sighted and disrespectful because the game is about everybody.”
He said he would have loved to have seen everyone get on the same page early on and find a way “to cut through the (bull).”
“To just say ‘This is where we are right now. Nobody has a playbook. Nobody has any answers but how are we going to come out better and stronger from all of this? … I think conversations would have carried so much more weight and I think we would have been able to avoid so much of the way certain things played out.”
Bradley underwent ankle surgery in January to repair an injury suffered in the MLS Cup final loss in Seattle on Nov 10. His rehab over, he was part of a small group training session Thursday.
“I’m doing well,” he said. “I’m continuing to make progress … At this point physically I feel really good. My ankle feels really good. And now it’s just about training. Getting back into real training in a way that now prepares me for games.”
Still, he said injuries are an issue in the league’s return to play given the time that has passed since the league suspended play March 12.
“That is a big concern,” he said. “And it’s not a big concern only amongst players. I know that has been a real topic amongst coaches and sports science staff and medical staff.”
While teams will do everything possible to get the players ready, a compressed schedule at the Florida tournament that awaits teams won’t help injury fears, he said.
“That certainly is a big question. Maybe the biggest question when you get past the initial health and safety stuff of COVID, among players and coaches and technical staff,” he said.
“How are we going to give ourselves the best chance to win, but also do it in a way where guys are at their highest level both technically and physically”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020.
NFL stars ask league to ‘admit wrong’ in silencing on-field protests – Sportsnet.ca
More than 15 NFL stars say they are asserting their right to peacefully protest and are asking the league to “admit wrong” in silencing its players from peacefully protesting.
In a video posted on Twitter by New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, players addressed the recent death of George Floyd, which has prompted protests across the world regarding racial injustices.
— Saquon Barkley (@saquon) June 5, 2020
Some players posed a hypothetical: “What if I was George Floyd?”
They proceeded to answer, “I am George Floyd,” followed by similar “I am” statements recognizing other African Americans who’ve died unjustly in recent years: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Michael Brown Jr., Samuel DuBose, Frank Smart, Phillip White and Jordan Baker.
“We will not be silenced,” the players said in the video. “We assert our right to peacefully protest. It shouldn’t take this long to admit.”
Then, the players asked the NFL to “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” “admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting” and to state that black lives matter.
In 2016, Colin Kaepernick sparked a wave of demonstrations across the league after he kneeled during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since that season and settled a collusion case saying he was blacklisted because of the protests with the league last year.
The NFL released a statement five days after Floyd’s death that makes no mention of player protests. It also does not mention racism.
But the league’s statement closes this way: “We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”
NFL’s Roger Goodell says ‘we were wrong,’ encourages players to protest – Sportsnet.ca
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