Dustin Johnson can't even remember the last time he took the first tee carrying his own clubs.
Johnson is shaking off some rust, snapping a near two-month break between rounds this past weekend, as he prepares to take the course as Rory McIlroy's playing partner against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff on Sunday. The TaylorMade Driving Relief Skins match play event at Seminole Golf Club, a nationally televised event in Florida, will be full of firsts.
"I think everything is going to be weird, just because it's going to be so different for us from what we're used to," Johnson said Thursday in a teleconference with event participants. "Obviously we'll get used to it pretty quickly.
"I think we have a big responsibility on ourselves to make sure that we practice all the guidelines that the PGA Tour is going to set in place. Obviously everyone is going to be watching what we're doing, so I think it's very important for us to do it all correctly. We have a responsibility to ourselves and all the other players to stay safe and stay healthy."
By the time players dialed into Thursday's media availability, event organizers had already cleared $1.3 million in COVID-19 relief money, with that effort running through Sunday night.
The charity event allows teams to start with $500,000 in the bank. Hole values increase as the round progresses. Nos. 1-6 will be worth $50,000 each; Nos. 7-16 will be worth $100,000. The 17th hole will be worth $200,000, while No. 18 will feature a $500,000 skin.
As in every other arena of life, getting back in the swing of golf is going to be a lot different. For example, there are no caddies for Sunday's event. Fowler and Wolff, teammates this weekend and former Oklahoma State All-Americans, are both more accustomed to toting their own golf equipment -- neither rates this as an advantage at oceanside and relatively flat Seminole -- but a lot of other shifts in protocol Sunday will be new.
Still to be determined is whether players can escape golf course restrictions in Florida that don't allow players to arrive at the course more than 20 minutes before their tee time. And the PGA is working with county officials to modify a restriction for flag sticks. Right now in Florida, players are putting into a cup line with a swimming pool noodle that prevents the ball from plunking to the usual metal tin at the bottom.
Players will not be required to wear masks -- that could change for the June return of the PGA Tour in Texas -- in Florida this weekend. But each player has been tested for COVID-19 and will again undergo testing and thermal