Planet Golf — 16 February 2016 by GW staff and news services
Prime Time: Rory vs. Rickie at night

For the first time in more than a decade, golf is getting another prime-time exhibition. Except this one will be live and under the lights.

Quicken Loans is finalizing details for a match involving Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler a week before the U.S. Open, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Monday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the match has not been announced.

The match would be at Detroit Golf Club on June 7, the Tuesday before U.S. Open week begins at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

The first two hours would be televised live by Golf Channel, followed by a 9-11 p.m. slot shown live on CBS. It was not clear how many holes would be broadcast under the lights.

Unlike the Monday night matches involving Tiger Woods in 1999 and 2000, there would be a celebrity component to this exhibition. The source said it would be “Team Rory” against “Team Rickie.” Still to be determined are the celebrities and format.

Quicken Loans, a Detroit-based mortgage company, is no stranger to offbeat sporting challenges. It has staged the first college basketball game on an active aircraft carrier, and two years ago, it offered $1 billion to anyone who completed a perfect bracket for the NCAA tournament.

In 2014, the company became title sponsor of the Quicken Loans National, hosted by Woods, and it has a personal endorsement deal with Fowler. As part of its PGA Tour involvement, Quicken Loans has a sweepstakes in which it pays someone’s mortgage for a year when a PGA Tour player shoots a hole-in-one.

McIlroy, who is No. 3 in the world going into the Northern Trust Open this week at Riviera, and Fowler (No. 4 in the world) are two of the most popular figures in golf.

Both live in South Florida, and last year, Fowler played in the Irish Open to help McIlroy because of McIlroy’s involvement.

Golf has a heritage of exhibitions. A century ago, one of the rewards for winning a major was being selected to compete in such exhibitions, for which the prize money was greater than anything won at a major.

Woods resurrected that concept in 1999 with the “Showdown at Sherwood” against David Duval (they were No. 1 and No. 2 in the world at the time) and played in another exhibition against Sergio Garcia a year later. Those Monday night exhibitions got away from head-to-head matches and switched to team events that included women and seniors, then they stopped in 2005.

The ratings peaked in 2000 at 7.6 and dropped to 3.0 in 2005 when Woods and John Daly played Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen at the Bridges on Rancho Santa Fe. Lights were used at those matches only when it got dark.

Woods and McIlroy played a stroke-play exhibition in 2012 in China. That was available in America through live streaming.

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