HONOLULU — Earlier this week, Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith announced that they would donate money to relief efforts for the wildfires that have ravaged their home country for each birdie and eagle they made at this week’s Sony Open.
The idea, in part, was that doing so would not only aid efforts Down Under but bring more attention to the devastation and get others to reach into their pockets as well. It worked, and more players followed suit.
On Saturday, the money kept pouring in with the news that the International Presidents Cup team was donating $125,000 from its 2019 charitable funds to the relief efforts of the Australian bushfires.
“I want to thank the rest of the International Team for their contributions to the cause and I know all of Australia – and particularly the victims – will be very grateful,” said Leishman, who was a member of the team under captain Ernie Els last month at Royal Melbourne. “These bushfires are an ongoing crisis that continue to cut a devastating path across Australia so support from the global community is crucial. It has been heartening to see the resiliency of the Australian people and to see the firefighters and volunteers from around the world coming together to continue this important fight.
“The scale of the destruction is huge and it will continue to take a team effort from every corner of the globe as we look to the future.”
The Presidents Cup and PGA Tour had already committed to match all player donations from this week’s Sony Open, also up to $125,000. Through the first two rounds, players had combined for over $14,000 worth of birdies. With the tour’s match plus more money from Leishman’s Begin Again Foundation, more than $35,000 had been raised with two rounds to go, plus more money that was raised on Saturday.
“The International Team was made to feel at home and felt tremendous support and hospitality from the great people of Australia,” Els said. “We hope that our donation can not only have an impact in Australia but will also encourage others to do what they can to help.”
So far nearly 40,000 square miles of Australia have been scorched, and it’s only the beginning of Australia’s fire season. At least 27 people have died and more than a billion animals have been affected, some species of which are dangerously close to extinction.
“The outpouring of support from across the globe has been incredible, but there is still so much that needs to be done,” Els said. “Fires are expected to burn to March so please help out by donating at any point when you can.”