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Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Camilo Villegas, three of the world’s top golfers, have committed to play in the 2009 St. Jude Classic.
Mickelson, ranked No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings, Garcia, ranked No. 4 and the 2008 PLAYERS Champion, and Villegas, ranked No. 11 in the World Golf Rankings and the 2008 runner-up in the FedExCup have announced plans to play in the 52nd annual St. Jude Classic set to take place at TPC Southwind June 8 – 14. The tournament will benefit the patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Also scheduled to compete in the tournament are top 10 world-ranked players Henrik Stenson and Padraig Harrington, the 2008 PGA Player of the Year. They are expected to be joined by former major champions including Justin Leonard (defending St. Jude Classic champion), David Toms, Retief Goosen, Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem, Jose Maria Olazabal, David Duval, Bob Tway, Steve Elkington and John Daly.
The Memphis stop on the PGA TOUR has been a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since 1960, when officials from the then Memphis Open, presented a $600 check to hospital founder Danny Thomas to help with the construction of St. Jude. St. Jude became the sole beneficiary of the tournament in 1970, and since then, the event has raised more that $21 million for the hospital. Funds raised by the St. Jude Classic help ensure that St. Jude continues its cutting-edge research that could be a child's only hope for survival. It also means that the hospital can continue to keep its promise that no child is ever turned away because of a family's inability to pay.
“Since St. Jude became the sole beneficiary of the Memphis PGA TOUR event in 1970, we have improved the survival rate of the most common form of childhood leukemia from less than 50 percent to 94 percent,” said David L. McKee, chief operating officer and interim CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. "That incredible progress is possible only because of generous supporters who believe in our mission. In the PGA TOUR, we have such a supporter and we are immensely pleased to continue this relationship as we strive for the day when no child will die in the dawn of life.”
According to Wes Kraker, president of Children's Champions for Hope, Inc., the tournament’s host organization, officials are focused on producing a great event for Mid-South Golf fans and to support St. Jude.
“We have lots of work to do, but with the continued help from a dedicated group of volunteers and strong support from the community, we will succeed,” he said.
Rick George, PGA TOUR Chief of Operations, added: “The PGA TOUR has been part of the fabric of the Memphis sports scene since 1958 and we look forward to returning in June. We are confident that with the continued support of our fans and the Memphis corporate community, along with the volunteers and the leadership of Children's Champions for Hope, the tournament will deliver another significant fundraising effort for St. Jude.”
In addition to the St. Jude Classic, the Eagles for St. Jude program continues to raise funds for the hospital as well. Villegas, along with professional golfers Vijay Singh and Morgan Pressel remain committed ambassadors to the program, and PGA TOUR professional Loren Roberts recently announced his support of the program.
Both Singh and Villegas have each pledged to contribute $5,000 for every eagle they make during the PGA season. Pressel has pledged to donate $1,000 for each eagle she makes during the LPGA season.
To support St. Jude through the golf tournament, purchase your tickets now at www.stjudeclassic.com.
Updated: May 2009