Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

The Loop

Another Miracle In Rwanda

November 07, 2008

Mr. Schmied, my chemistry teacher at Neshannock High School, used to teach a great lesson about perspective. He'd describe a guy standing in a car on a moving train throwing a ball up in the air and catching it. Then he would explain how the path of the ball in flight would appear differently to an observer depending on where the observer was when he saw the ball being tossed. What you saw literally depended on your point of view.

As we wring our hands and fret about the shape the next professional golf season will take it is perhaps important to get some perspective. The PGA Tour played for $280 million in prize money this year. The LPGA for $57 million. The winner of the FedEx Cup, Vijay Singh, was compensated to the tune of $10 million.

A year ago, I had the great privilege to accompany six LPGA players to Africa on a humanitarian mission to helps the AIDS orphans of Rwanda. As part of the 12-day trip the players gave a golf clinic at Kigali Golf Course, the only course in the country. Rwanda is a country in which 20 percent of the children die before the age of 5, many merely because they do not have clean drinking water. Because of AIDS and the genocide in 1994 in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists the nation of 8 million people has 1 million orphans.

The trip affected me greatly and I read the English version of the nation's only daily newspaper most days to keep up on this tiny country's valiant struggle. This week is the Rwanda Open, the premier golf tournament in the country. Take a guess what the purse is for the 72- hole event. If you said $6,000 you are correct. Guess how many players are in the field. If you said a dozen you would be right, sir, after six players didn't show up.

By the way, the first-round leader is Emmanuel Ruterana, one of two Rwandans in the field, whose 69 was two strokes better than Jean Baptist Hakizimana, also a Rwandan. I'll keep you  posted  how the Rwanda Open turns out. It will be good for your point of view. Hey. It's all about perspective.

--Ron Sirak