MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The 2020 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational is coming off a year where it raised a record setting $5M+ for the children’s research hospital. Without fans in attendance in 2020, the mission to raise money remains the same.
Four players who have previously won in Memphis played the back nine in a match play event with $100,000 to raise for St. Jude Research Hospital. Brandt Snedeker, Billy Horschel, Henrik Stenson and Viktor Hovland only made it through six before weather stopped play.
“If you can’t finish it’s a draw right,” Stenson joked. “I think we gave Sneds and Billy the win. They played a little bit stronger than us, but it was a good afternoon. Fun to be out there with the boys, weather was a little bit of a challenge, it was coming down pretty hard at times and it’s pretty hot here in Memphis as well, so I’m looking forward to that shower in about 45 minutes.”
During the FedEx Cares Charity Challenge, Snedeker doubled the donation with his closest to the pin shot.
“It’s means a lot, especially being from Tennessee, I’m from Nashville just up the road here. I know full well what a great place St. Jude is,” Snedeker said. “What they’re trying to accomplish. Any way we can help do that, being a Tennessean, I know what they do for this community and around the country. I’d be more than happy to do anything I can to help. This is awesome.”
Even though patients won’t be on the course, they will still be featured. Caddies will wear their artwork on their bibs and players with custom shoes designed by patients. According to ALSAC President and CEO Rick Shadyac, it’s the little things that make the kids at St. Jude look up to these players.
“The memories that have been created over the years and we have been blessed to be a tour stop since the 1970s stay with these kids for their lives,” Shadyac said. “I get the privilege of interacting with them and they tell me about those experiences. Like when a golfer gives a golf ball or glove and signs that glove and gives it to that patient, high fives them, fist bumps them, those kids remember those for the rest of their lives.”
The message and work of St. Jude isn’t lost on the golfers either. Defending champion, Brooks Koepka said his perspective on life was changed three years ago when he visited St. Jude.
“We were sitting at the house this morning and I was talking to our chef before we came out here, I was just thinking to myself, it’s just golf, I could be fighting for my life like some of these kids are in the hospital,” Koepka said. “They’ve got a smile on their face yeah I might be pissed off or I might be mad, but there’s no excuse for me not to have a good attitude and smile all the way through this because I don’t have to deal with what they have to.”
Round one tees of from TPC Southwind on Thursday. The first grouping go at 11 a.m. CST.