Getting back on the green for a good cause.
Golf stars Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson will face off against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff on Sunday while raising money for coronavirus relief efforts.
In addition to marking the televised return of the sport, the TaylorMade Driving Relief event will help raise funds and awareness for the American Nurses Foundation and the CDC Foundation. McIlroy and Johnson will compete on behalf of the American Nurses Foundation while Fowler and Wolff will play for the CDC Foundation — and thanks to PGA Tour Charities and GoFundMe, fans will be able to make donations online and via text message.
"I think everyone has been hit pretty hard by the coronavirus and it’s really changed the world for the last few months,” Johnson tells PEOPLE ahead of the match. “This event gives me and the other guys a chance to give back and say thanks to all of those who are helping provide relief.”
“I know how much I miss sports in my life, so I’m also excited to be a part of the first televised golf event since The Players Championship was canceled,” he adds. “I hope we can give the fans something to enjoy and a break from everything that we have all been going through."
In addition to just getting the chance to play again, Johnson says he's also looking forward to raising as much money as possible.
Each team will start off the match with $500,000 for their respective foundation — and the remaining $2 million will be given out as skins. Farmers Insurance has also pledged an additional $1 million to create a birdies-and-eagles pool to benefit Off Their Plate, which helps frontline healthcare workers and restaurant employees.
“The skins format that we are playing will allow us to be a little more aggressive than normal, so we can really get after it,” Johnson tells PEOPLE. “I’m working hard now to get myself ready for this event.”
The match at Florida’s renowned Seminole Golf Club will also take place without any spectators, in accordance with state safety guidelines.
“It will definitely feel a little weird at first, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it pretty quickly,” the pro, who is currently ranked 5th in the world, says of playing to a fan-less crowd. “Hopefully they will all tune in from home and we can provide some entertainment for them.”
Of course, Johnson isn't the only athlete involved who's excited to have the opportunity to give back.
“The thing I’m looking forward to most is helping to impact those most affected worldwide,” McIlroy tells PEOPLE. “The impact is huge and the fact we guaranteed $4 million to the charities and hopefully donating more from the broadcast and people donating at pgatour.com/drivingrelief, it’s an honor to be a part of it."
"We are all itching for a sense of normalcy, so it’s cool to be a part of golf returning to television, to give fans something to look forward to and most importantly, raise money for the relief efforts,” adds Wolff.
The PGA Tour Charities’ online fundraiser is already live on GoFundMe, and so far there have been $1,350,355 in partner and individual donations. During the competition on Sunday, at-home viewers will also be able to donate by texting ‘DRIVINGRELIEF’ to 41-411.
"Sunday's match not only gives people at home a welcome diversion and a sense of normalcy, it provides a sense of community by combining true sports camaraderie with the opportunity to come together to help those impacted by COVID-19," says GoFundMe CEO Tim Cadogan. "We're all craving the feeling of connectedness and by partnering with PGA TOUR and NBC Sports, we're empowering people to take action to support those in need, while they cheer on four of golf's greatest.
The TaylorMade Driving Relief match will take place on Sunday, May 17, from 2-6 p.m. ET. The event will be aired on television by several channels, including NBC.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.
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