With professional golf events around the world being postponed and canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Official World Golf Ranking announced Friday that current rankings will be frozen. Rory McIlroy is locked into the No. 1 position. Now, in a new competition that is playing out on social media and stationary bikes around the world, McIlroy also appears to be the man to beat.
On Monday, March 16, the day after the Players Championship should have concluded, Billy Horschel posted on Instagram that he failed to keep up with McIlroy during a Peloton ride.
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A post shared by Billy Horschel (@billyho_golf) on Mar 16, 2020 at 7:06am PDT
Two days later, Horschel posted that he had completed another ride and put out a challenge to McIlroy and Justin Thomas to beat his performance. Out of 14,670 riders who had completed the ride, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion finished 401st. Who says golfers aren’t athletes?
With gyms and health clubs closed in many parts of the United States, many people who want to stay in shape are exercising at home. It turns out that many professional golfers who have home gyms have a Peloton, a high-tech stationary bike that has a large video screen. After connecting the bike to Wifi, riders can stream both live classes from Peloton’s gyms in New York and London. There are about 90 live classes a week, but riders can also opt to do cataloged rides any time they like which are based on criteria like duration (5-75 minutes), type (beginner, climb, intervals, etc.), instructor and music genre. The system lets riders listen to the music and instructor through Bluetooth headphones, plugged-in headphones or through the console’s speakers.
A leaderboard ranks every rider’s performance for motivation and to let people track their improvement. Ordinarily, the live classes in the New York and London studios are filled with riders doing the same workout you do at home, but until the coronavirus threat passes, instructors are doing live classes in empty studios for riders at home.
As you might suspect, the bike is not cheap. The $2,245 sticker price is jarring, but Peloton promotes the fact that the bike can be purchased by paying $58 per month for 39 months and 0 percent interest. However, there is a $39 per month membership fee to access the online classes.
With professional golfers posting more and more content on social media from their homes, we’ve now learned that in addition to McIlroy, Horschel and Thomas, Charley Hoffman is a Peloton devotee. Ian Poulter posted a clip on Instagram from his home gym with two Pelotons visible in the background. Jimmy Walker was also captured riding one in a post created by his wife, Erin, after she completed a ride. LPGA Tour star Morgan Pressel also took the same class after Horschel, McIlroy and Thomas rode.
Still, McIlroy remains the man to beat on the bike. On Friday, Horschel completed a HIIT ride (high-intensity interval training) lead by Alex Toussaint that was recorded on March 5, then challenged McIlroy and others to beat his performance of 752 kilojoules (kj), which is a measure of power output. Horschel averaged 23.9 mph during the 45-minute ride, rode over 17.92 miles and burned 1,071 calories.
On Saturday, McIlroy smoked him.
“Billy, JT, Charley and everyone else who wants to do this Peloton thing while we’re in quarantine or social isolation or whatever you want to call it, I beat you again,” McIlroy said on his Instagram story. Smiling as sweat flowed off his chin and with his white Nike shirt and hair soaked, he added, “I just about got to my number. The target was 800 (kj) output. Forty-five minutes with Alex. Just got there. Sixty-ninth on the leaderboard out of nearly 11,500 people. Grinded on this one and yeah … bring it boys.”
As people around the United States and other parts of the world continue to practice social distancing in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it will be interesting to see where the Peloton competition between some of golf’s top pros heads.
Horschel took to Instagram on Saturday afternoon to tell his followers that he was planning to do another ride on Sunday and hopes others will try to beat him. He also said that it’s McIlroy’s turn to pick the next challenge ride.
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A post shared by Billy Horschel (@billyho_golf) on Mar 21, 2020 at 2:07pm PDT
Golfweek. . Pro golfers push each other on Peloton during coronavirus pandemic. Available at: https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/03/24/pga-tour-stars-push-each-other-on-peloton-during-coronavirus-pandemic/