Rory McIlroy on the challenge of Seminole: ‘I putted off the green’

Seminole Golf Club isn’t long, but it’s no softy.

The gem in South Florida, one of the legendary Donald Ross’ greatest courses, will make its TV debut at age 91 on Sunday in the TaylorMade Driving Relief charity event featuring world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and world No. 5 Dustin Johnson facing No. 17 Rickie Fowler and No. 110 Matthew Wolff.

Hard by the Atlantic Ocean, the course’s main defense is the wind. If the airstreams are gentle, the par-72, 7,265-yard course can be overpowered. The par 5s go 555, 545, 510 and 555 yards, respectively. Those distances will put little fear into the four players in the lineup.

Still, Seminole isn’t a punching bag.

“I putted off the fifth green from about 30 feet,” McIlroy said of a recent round with Justin Thomas, new Seminole member Tom Brady and club president Jimmy Dunne. McIlroy recalled the story during media availability promoting Sunday’s charity event that will raise millions of dollars for charities affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“If the wind gets up and the greens are as fast as they were last Friday, birdies might be hard to come by,” McIlroy added. “It’s going to play fast and firm and looks like it will be a little breezy on Sunday, so it will be a good test for everyone. Some of the best green complexes in the world in terms of the thought that needs to go into playing your second shots into the greens and then just how thoughtful you need to be on the greens and around the greens.


HOW TO WATCH: TV, streaming info for TaylorMade Driving Relief charity match


“It’s all about the second shot and positioning and leaving yourself below the hole. I think people on Sunday will see that Seminole is more about precision with the iron shots and being really sharp around the greens.”

His charity companions agree.

“I love Seminole. It’s just a fun golf course to play,” Fowler said.

Fowler likened the course’s greens to those found on famed Pinehurst No. 2, another Ross gem where the putting surfaces can be maddening.

“Seminole is very much a second-shot or approach-shot golf course,” Fowler said. “It’s fairly forgiving off the tee, but with how the greens are kind of designed, they’re pretty good sized; but lot of balls will roll and feed off (a green), whether it’s back down through the fairway into bunkers, and that’s where it can get tough, especially if the wind is up. It doesn’t look like it’s supposed to be too windy on Sunday. I think you’re going to see us having some fun off the tee, and then from there is where things will get separated on approach shots and putting.”

But if the wind blows, Wolff said, watch out.

“If the wind blows it’s going to be a difficult course,” he said. “The greens are extremely difficult. They’re very sloped, a lot of subtle breaks, and I’ve even heard that people putt the ball often off the green and into bunkers. I don’t think you’re going to see that from us, but it’s definitely something that I think (makes) putting a huge advantage there. We’ll see what the weather brings because I think that’s going to be the biggest factor in whether there’s a lot of birdies or we’re playing more for defense and just to make a bunch of pars.”

Comments are closed.