The money was flowing Wednesday, and it was going all in the right direction
The PGA Tour held what it calls its “Cadillac Championship Charity Ride Out,” leaving checks here, there and everywhere in South Florida.
The first stop was at the Parks and Police 4 Kids Foundation, the second and third at the First Tee of Broward and the First Tee of Miami, followed by the grand finale at the United Way of Miami-Dade.
The final check was presented at United Way and totaled $250,000.
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“We are about two things,” said Andres Gaviria, the general manager of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and he said it without hesitation. “Making tournaments provide for the best opportunity for players, and to give back to our communities where the golf is played are our two main goals.
“The PGA is basically a sport, but we are also all for charity.”
How much money is involved? The PGA has donated $2 billion since its existence and expects to be at $3 billion by 2019.
“It’s part of our business,” Gaviria said.
“That indicates how committed we are toward charity,” Gaviria continued. “The money we donate is more money than all the other professional sports combined.”
In South Florida, the tournament in Doral — under various names over numerous years — has existed since 1962. The Dolphins, Marlins, Heat and Panthers all came after that year.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, an avid golfer who attended the ceremony, had no intention of missing two of his favorite things — charity and golf. He pointed out during the presentation that, “Billy Casper won $9,000 when he won the first Doral tournament.”
Now there is $1.6-plus million going to the winner and a total purse of $9.5 million.
In a photo-op, Gimenez held the WGC trophy. “I wish they would give me that big check to go with it,” he said with a smile.
Not going to happen, Mr. Mayor. Your handicap is just not that good. However, enjoy your moment with the trophy.
Perhaps the best comment — and most sincere — from the entire night came from PGA pro Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
“I always wanted to be part of the PGA Tour,” Castano said. “Then I found out what they do for charity, and it made me prouder than I have ever been.”