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Capital One's The Match

Rory McIlroy, Max Homa open to under the lights PGA Tour event

February 22, 2024
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David Cannon/Getty Images for The Match

Professional golf is very much in it's "let's try it and see what happens" era. Events like Capital One's The Match, the Netflix Cup and next month's Q at Myrtle Beach are all key examples of that—the type of fun-first, experimental events that the sport needs way more of to break up the monotony of 72-hole stroke play tournaments.

On Monday, the ninth iteration of Capital One's The Match will take place at The Park in West Palm Beach, Fla., and it will be the second match that will take place under the lights. Rory McIlroy, Max Homa, Rose Zhang and Lexi Thompson will star in the event, and it won't be the first time McIlroy has played one of these under the lights in prime time. He also competed alongside Tiger Woods against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth at Pelican Golf Club in December 2022.

Golf under the lights presents a number of challenges, both logistically and for the golfers themselves. That said, both McIlroy and Homa say they would be open to an under the lights event at the PGA Tour level.

"It definitely presented a few challenges," McIlroy said of his first under-the-lights experience. "The ball reacts differently on the greens. It sort of—it’s after dusk, so the greens start to get a little bit of dew on them. The ball starts to skid, and that wasn’t really something that I was expecting.

"But, apart from that, the course is really well lit," he added. "And I think it’s a really cool experience for the viewers at home. I think it creates a different visual that you don’t really see. If [The Match] is like a little lab in terms of experimenting with things that maybe could be done down the road in bigger events, LPGA events or PGA Tour events, I think it would be pretty cool to start doing some stuff like this where we maybe tee off a little later in the day and the back nine is under the lights. Formula 1 for example has started to do that the last few years in some of their races. And I think it’s really added to the product. I think it’s pretty cool, I’m excited to do it again, and I wouldn’t be opposed to that sort of making its way into some of the bigger tournaments that we play."

Homa agreed, citing his past experiences playing in the Heartwell Skins Game under the lights back home in California.

"I’ve been lucky to play some golf under the lights," Homa said. "It's fun, it’s different, watching the ball flight through the light into the darkness and back into the light, it’s pretty fun. I think it shows well on TV. Watching Rory, JT, Tiger and Jordan’s match was cool.

"I understand there are a ton of complications that go along with doing this in a professional competition on tour, but I do think it’s something that could be looked at, because it is unique and different and I think the timing of it is great. I love watching golf at night when I’ve done my duties as a parent, so I think it would have a nice little slot and I just think it looks a bit cooler. Definitely harder to play in some aspects, shadows are very long when you get to the lights, it’s harder to see. But I think that’s kind of a fun aspect of it."

Zhang also played in some Heartwell Skins games growing up, so it won't be her first time experiencing night golf. It will be for Thompson, who said the only time she's played at night is putt-putt.

"I have a hard enough time seeing my ball when it's sunny out," Thompson said.

Thompson, Zhang, McIlroy and Homa will face off in a skins game on Monday at The Park, with all proceeds going to charity. Fans can tune in at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT, and it will also be available to stream on MAX.