Coronavirus: McIlroy, Johnson win TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match

By Sports Desk May 17, 2020

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match as live golf made its return to TV, raising over $5.5million for coronavirus relief.

Golf has been on hiatus since the PGA and European Tours were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, though the plan is for the season to restart in June.

In the meantime, McIlroy/Johnson and Fowler/Wolff went head-to-head all in the name of charity in Florida on Sunday.

No caddies were allowed at the historic Seminole Golf Club, where all players carried their own bags in the behind-closed-doors event.

A play-off was needed after 18 holes, with $1.1m unclaimed heading into the sudden death closest-to-the-pin challenge.

McIlroy secured the remaining money with a wedge at the 17th, pushing the world number one and Johnson to $1.85m and past Fowler/Wolff's $1.15m.

The American Nurses Foundation benefited from McIlroy and Johnson, while Fowler and Wolff played for the CDC Foundation.

The season is set to resume with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas on June 11-14.

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    If there ever was a course to get slumping Rory McIlroy back on track, Quail Hollow might be it. 

    McIlroy shot a five-under-par 66 Friday at the Wells Fargo Championship to make the cut for the first time in two months and reach four-under for the tournament, two strokes behind leaders Matt Wallace, Gary Woodland and Patrick Rodgers. 

    First-round leader Phil Mickelson dropped to a tie for 10th overall after carding a 75 at the Charlotte, North Carolina course. 

    Only Roger Sloan (64) went lower than McIlroy in the second round, as the 32-year-old recorded six birdies and just one bogey after shooting 72 in the first round. 

    The Northern Irishman recorded his first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow in 2010 and won there again in 2015. He lost out to Rickie Fowler in a three-man playoff in 2012. 

    McIlroy is playing his first tournament since missing the cut at the Masters and The Players Championship, the latter coming a week after a 10th-place finish at the Arnold Palmer invitational in early March. 

    "When you played the way I played sort of through that stretch in March and into April, you're going to feel like you're not as close as you probably are," McIlroy told reporters. 

    "But I worked hard after Augusta. I took a week off and reset, which I needed.

    "Then I put my head down and worked hard and at least felt better about everything coming in here."

    Among the three leaders heading into the weekend, Wallace shot 67 Friday, Rodgers 68 and Woodland 69.

    Kramer Hickok is one stroke back at five-under for the tournament, while Scott Piercy, Keith Mitchell, Carlos Ortiz and Scott Stallings are tied with McIlroy at four-under. 

    Mickelson and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson are among those at three-under, while 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed sits four back of the leaders. 

    Justin Thomas is six back entering the weekend, while 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and 2020 Open Championship winner Shane Lowry just made the two-over cut. 

    Among those who missed the cut were past major champions Fowler, Jason Day, Francesco Molinari and Lucas Glover  in addition to defending champion Max Homa and Jon Rahm.

    Rahm had made 22 consecutive cuts, the longest active streak on Tour.

  • Mickelson holds two-shot lead at Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy shoots 72 Mickelson holds two-shot lead at Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy shoots 72

    Phil Mickelson knows Quail Hollow as well as any course on the PGA Tour, and his comfort there was clear on Thursday as he earned a two-stroke lead in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship. 

    Mickelson carded a seven-under-par 64 to set the early pace in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the five-time major champion is looking for his first win in 17 consecutive appearances at the event. 

    The 50-year-old has always played well there, though, finishing in the top five in half of his 16 previous starts at the tournament. 

    Lee Kyoung-hoon and Keegan Bradley were two shots back after shooting 66s.

    Mickelson recorded just one bogey on day one while carding eight birdies, including four of the last five holes. 

    He won two Champions Tour events last year in his debut season on that circuit, but has not captured a PGA Tour title since winning at Pebble Beach in February 2019. 

    Mickelson's last opening-round lead or co-lead came three weeks prior to that in Palm Springs, but he did not want to put any additional pressure on himself after Thursday's strong start.

    "I don't want to jump ahead, I want to play a good round tomorrow," said Mickelson, who recorded his lowest score on Tour since a 63 in the second round of the 2020 Travelers Championship. "I have an opportunity to play a course I love with a great pairing.

    "I'm playing well and I just want to kind of not get ahead of myself and go play another fun round."

    Mickelson, who entered the week ranked number 115 in the world, has 30 career opening-round leads/co-lads – the second most on Tour since 1992.

    American star Justin Thomas closed out the first round five shots off the pace, while U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and 2012 tournament winner Rickie Fowler are a stroke further back.

    Former Masters champion Patrick Reed shot a 71 as Xander Schauffele and former world number one Rory McIlroy ended the day one over the card.

    McIlroy – winner of the Wells Fargo Championship in 2015 – mixed three bogeys and two birdies on a challenging day for the four-time major champion.

    Jon Rahm struggled following his opening-round 76, while defending champion Max Homa's bid for back-to-back titles started with a six-over-par 77.

  • Serie A champions Inter have 'serious financial problems' – Zanetti Serie A champions Inter have 'serious financial problems' – Zanetti

    Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti said the Serie A champions have "serious financial problems" amid ongoing uncertainty over their ownership.

    Atalanta's 1-1 draw with Sassuolo last week meant Inter were crowned champions of Italy for the first time since Jose Mourinho's treble-winning side in 2009-10, ending Juventus' run of nine consecutive Scudetti.

    Despite leading Inter to glory, head coach Antonio Conte's future remains uncertain due to the Nerazzurri's financial situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic as owners Suning Holdings Group reportedly consider selling the team.

    Reports of a possible sale first emerged in the middle of the season and rumours regarding the Chinese owners – who acquired a majority stake in 2016 – persist amid the COVID-19 crisis.

    "It's true that the club could've been sold mid-season," former Inter star and captain Zanetti told La Nacion.

    "We were going through serious financial problems, even if we weren't the only ones in such a difficult moment.

    "I saw that as a club we can still improve. The coach has done something extraordinary over two years, now it's up to us to improve the internal mechanism and aspire to something more.

    "The financial problems remain and it could take a couple of years to rediscover that balance. We need people back in the stadium to make the sponsors happy. Basically, a return to normality.

    "We mustn't hide, it is a delicate moment, but we want this so we can take a bigger step forward. What we need is an over-reaching strategy that guarantees sustainability in the long-term."

    Conte earned his fourth Serie A title this season – only five other coaches in league history have managed at least four.

    The former Italy boss is only the second coach in Serie A history to win a Scudetto with both Inter and Juve, joining Giovanni Trapattoni.

    "Conte has brought a work ethic and mentality first and foremost," Zanetti said. "He convinced even the youngest players that his project could really work. Since the day he arrived, not a day has gone by without him thinking how to improve this team. He convinced the club to follow him.

    "There was some initial scepticism about his past at Juventus, but they learned to love him. He has been focused since the first day and accepted this challenge like a real Interista."

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