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McIlroy hoping schedule change leads to Masters breakthrough

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London—Rory McIlroy is hoping the rescheduling of the 2020 golf calendar can help him complete a career grand slam at the Masters in November.

All four of golf’s majors have been affected by strict government restrictions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Open Championship has been cancelled and the three American majors rescheduled for the second half of the year.

Rather than its usual position as the first major of the year, The Masters will round off a hectic four months that is also scheduled to include the PGA Championship, US Open and Ryder Cup.

“The Masters means so much. Obviously it’s the last major for me to win but putting that aside, it is such a special place, so many great memories already,” McIlroy said in an Instagram Live with Nike Golf.

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“I always feel there’s this bit of anticipation going into Augusta, the first big event of the year. There’s all this hype.

“I don’t think it will feel like that this year, it will feel different but it’s something I’m looking forward to.

“It’s going to be a different Masters this year but personally, maybe selfishly, that’s what I need to get the jacket.”

The Northern Irishman is also hoping to get the chance to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup, which has so far retained its original dates from September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

However, European captain Padraig Harrington believes the biennial event will be postponed if fans cannot attend due to social distancing measures.

“I think for us, that the Ryder Cup is the biggest and most intense atmosphere you can play under,” McIlroy added.

“You’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for your team-mates, you’re playing for your country, you’re playing for a lot of different people.”

Meanwhile, the PGA of America donated $5 million to launch the Golf Emergency Relief fund on Monday, aiming to provide support for the golf industry during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The body, whose flagship event the US PGA Championship has been postponed from May amid the shelter-in-place policies designed to slow spread of the virus, pledged to match up to an additional $2.5 million given by other groups. 

A statement said the PGA of America contribution included all members of its executive team voluntarily reducing their compensation. The board of directors pledged personal donations.

“There’s pain everywhere,” PGA chief executive Seth Waugh said. “It’s how to get to the other side. The government is doing extraordinary things. The Fed actions last week were stunning. The loan programs are very clever to keep people employed. The bad news is it may not be enough depending on how long this lasts.

“What we’re saying is, ‘How can we create an additional safety net?’”

The fund will be administered by E4E Relief, an independent public charity.

The PGA, which represents club professionals, has nearly 29,000 members. But PGA president Suzy Whaley said it’s hoped the fund will help members of other golf organizations, club caddies and players on developmental tours.

“We have to ensure that the heart and soul of our game—our people—are able to get back on their feet and continue to serve others down the road,” Whaley said. “Eventually, golf will return, but we first need to reach out and help people in our industry during this national emergency.”

The PGA said other organizations, including the US PGA Tour and the LPGA, the US Golf Association are supporting the fund, as are groups representing course superintendents, course owners and merchandisers.

“Our hope is the industry gets behind it,” Whaley said.

Applications are to be accepted starting from Thursday.

The first phase will distribute $500 grants for basic needs and $1,500 grants for critical needs.

A second phase will make funds available up to $3,500 depending on need.

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