The world of golf has provided a ray of sunshine in this time of lean content for live sports. It has been announced that TaylorMade will partner with UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Farmers Insurance to put on a team Skins Game on May 17th at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, FL. The event will officially be called “TaylorMade Driving Relief” and will be broadcast live by NBC, Golf Channel, Sky Sports and the PGA Tour’s global broadcast partners around the world. It will also be streamed online by a number different services.
No spectators will be allowed to attend the event and the players, caddies and essential personnel on site will strictly adhere to all CDC social distancing guidelines. Mike Tirico will be doing commentary from his home in Michigan while analysts will be located in an off-site studio setting. Only two television reporters, Steve Sands and Jerry Foltz, will be allowed on the course to provide insights that may not be visible on the broadcast.
The field chosen for the event definitely did not disappoint as the world’s top ranked player, Rory McIlroy, will team up with former world number one Dustin Johnson to play against fan favorite Rickie Fowler and fellow Oklahoma State Alum and recent first time PGA Tour winner Matthew Wolff. All four players either have endorsement deals or ambassador type relationships with all three companies involved.
This is truly a win-win-win-win event. A substantial amount of money will be raised for COVID-19 relief. Sports fans will get a live event instead of just simulations and video games. The sports gambling world will get an opportunity for some action and the world will get to see the first ever televised event from Seminole Golf Club. Seminole is widely considered to be one of the best courses in the country, if not the world, both from a golf standpoint, but also that it’s just aesthetically incredible.
The Benefit Above All Else
For sports, and especially golf fans, it’s easy to get excited about an event like this, but it would be a true injustice to not lead with the money that’s going to be raised for COVID-19 relief. UnitedHealth Group Inc. is donating $3 million to the skins purse for which these two teams will be competing. The portion won by Rory and DJ will be donated to the American Nurses Foundation while the portion won by Rickie and Wolff will be donated to the CDC Foundation.
Additionally, Farmers Insurance has pledged $1 million for a birdies-and-eagles pool to benefit “Off Their Plate” an organization which supports COVID-19 health care workers. Fans and viewers will also be able to donate as PGA Tour Charities is creating a “text-to-donate” program that will provide an incredibly easy method for folks at home to make a difference as well.
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DJ/Rory (-200) vs. Rickie/Matthew (+175)
When it comes to handicapping this contest sportsbooks have installed DJ and Rory as a -200 favorite with Rickie and Matthew coming in at a +175 underdog. Based purely on the make-up of the teams, these odds are no surprise and under normal circumstances Rory and DJ would probably have a bigger advantage than those numbers would suggest. We’re a long ways from normal however.
If you’re going to put down a few bucks on this match there are a few main things to consider before picking your side. First, the winning team is going to be decided by who wins more total money for their respective charities. Second, this event is a Skins Game format which means that there will likely be quite a few carryovers and as a result, winning just one hole after a series of carryovers could determine the overall winner. And finally, we haven’t seen these guys play golf for two months and so each players current form could be a bit of a crap-shoot.
Taking these three factors into consideration, it’s clear that the value lies with Rickie and Matthew. The format, combined with all the unknowns, makes this truly a toss-up in our opinion. We’ll gladly take our chances with the Okie State ‘boys at almost 2-1 odds instead of paying a premium for DJ and Rory which, we think, is largely based on name recognition.
Pick: Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff +175
*Odds provided by William Hill