MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- This was more than just a check presentation. This was Morgan Pressel breaking down on stage, Vijay Singh donating $300,000, and Camilo Villegas working a coloring book with the cancer patients at the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This was one of those days when golf steps up and shows its true character. This was about life more than sport.
At a time when charity is going from the big winner to the biggest loser in a tough economy, the Eagles For St. Jude program took a day to recognize the record $2.57 million that was raised during the 2008 PGA and LPGA Tour seasons. That covers roughly two days of operational costs at St. Jude, so the way Singh looks at it there are still 363 days to go.
The Fijian started the year pledging $5,000 for every one of his eagles (Stanford Financial, founder of the program, pledged $1,000). He made six, but instead of $30,000, Singh added a zero. "When I started with Eagles last year, I had no idea how much it would change my life," said Singh, the FedEx Cup winner. "The more time I spend with these incredible kids, the more I experience their unbelievable courage, the more I want to help them. I find that every time I have a chance for an eagle, I can't help but think about them."
Singh said his goal in 2009 is to make every player on the PGA Tour aware of the program. Villegas, who pledged $50,000, noted he was just following the example Singh was setting. "Seeing all the kids and what they go through is very humbling," the Colombian said. "Just to have the chance to help in a tiny way is very satisfying."
The day was an emotional one for Pressel, who lost her mother, Kathy, to cancer. This was her first tour of the famous hospital that comedian/entertainer Danny Thomas linked with the Memphis Open in 1970. She was reunited on the stage by Macy Morgan, an 11-year-old who is cancer free after 2 1/2 years of treatment at St. Jude.
"I'm an emotional person anyway," Pressel said. "But this hits close to home."
-- Tim Rosaforte