McIlroy and Johnson feeling good after getting back on course at charity event

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SHOWS: JUNO BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (MAY 17, 2020) (PGA TOUR - SEE RESTRICTIONS)

1. RORY MCILROY AND DUSTIN JOHNSON SPEAKING TO REPORTER AFTER WINNING 'DRIVING CHARITY' GOLF EVENT AT SEMINOLE GOLF CLUB

2. (SOUNDBITE)(English) RORY MCILROY AFTER BEING ASKED HOW IT FELT TO BE PLAYING COMPETITIVE GOLF AGAIN, SAYING:

"It was good, it was nice to feel it again. Look, we, it's only, what's it been, nine weeks since the Players, it feels much longer than that, obviously we just went through a very, you know, unprecedented time. We're used to feeling like that week in and week out, so to be at home for these few weeks and not feel that, it was nice to get back out here today even though we're in, you know, it's a different setting than what we're used to but to get the competitive juices going again, it was nice to feel it."

3. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DUSTIN JOHNSON AFTER BEING ASKED HOW THEY PLAYED, SAYING:

"Yeah well, obviously Rory hit a nice shot there on the closest to the pin, I actually thought I hit a really good one but, you know, it's just how it goes, it's partner golf so you gotta rely on your partner some, and I relied on him a little more than I wanted to but, you know, it was fun and it was all for a good cause and I really enjoyed being out here today. And he was talking about when we go back out this is actually how it's gonna be a little bit, you know for the most part, there's gonna be no fans, it's just gonna be, you know, us and some TV cameras, so it's kinda nice to get out and kinda see and feel what it will be like a little bit."

4. (SOUNDBITE)(English) RORY MCILROY AFTER BEING ASKED HOW IT FELT TO PLAY WITHOUT ANY FANS, SAYING:

"Well I would've loved to have given my partner a high five, like it was team effort, like DJ said, he didn't, he didn't play as well as he wanted to but when he needed to he hit two of the best shots of the day into 18, so he turned it on when he needed to but, it would've been nice to give him something or a high five but obviously we can't in these times but, yeah, it's gonna be different, it's gonna be different for awhile and, you know, we're just gonna have to get used to it but DJ made a nice point, it's been nice to get out here and see and feel what it's gonna be like."

STORY: A tie-break win for world number one Rory McIlroy and teammate Dustin Johnson at the Driving Relief two-on-two charity skins match Sunday (May 17) injected suspense to a course absent of fans and applause in the COVID-19 era.

Wearing microphones that captured their smack talk and frustrations, caddie-less competitors McIlroy and Johnson faced off against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, carrying their own clubs and adhering to social distancing procedures after undergoing a battery of tests and screenings.

That bravado was eventually tempered, however, as Fowler's seven birdies put pressure on the world number one and Johnson, the heavily favoured pair who boast five majors titles between them.

The competition came down to a closest-to-the-hole tiebreak, in which McIlroy clinched the victory despite an admirable 120-yard wedge shot from Wolff, letting out a whoop and offering his teammate an "air-five."

Raising more than $5.5 million through sponsors and donations for COVID-19 relief, the competition quickly trended on social media, as golf-starved fans reveled in seeing their favourite players compete in unique circumstances.

Wolff's tie-dyed sneakers and handlebar mustache and Fowler's pantomime gestures to an imaginary crowd proved that the proceedings were anything but business as usual, with comedic actor Bill Murray showing off his quarantine snacks during a Skype dial-in to the telecast.

The competitors swapped out the PGA Tour-mandated slacks for shorts in the 87-degree Fahrenheit heat, as clouds dotted the otherwise clear blue skies along the Florida coast.

With professional sports slowly lurching back to life in empty stadiums, arenas and venues across the world, the event marked yet another incremental move forward into a new normal.

The PGA Tour is set to resume next month in a fanless setting for the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, with players and caddies facing a host of tests and screenings.

(Production: David Grip)

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