Player of the Month Pays Off
February 23, 2012
By Johnson Wagner, Special to Together, Anything's Possible
Winning the Sony Open in Hawaii was a terrific way to start my season, and it was great to be named January's PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis. The honor also gave me the chance to donate a significant amount of money to two charities that mean a lot to me.
The First Tee has always been something I’ve been involved with, and I was ready to donate all the money to that initiative. But then my wife, Katie, and I discussed it, and we decided to help Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, as well. I couldn’t have made a better choice.
The First Tee was easy. I do some stuff for The First Tee in Charlotte, so I split half of the money—$12,500 for each—between the Charlotte and Houston chapters. I live in Charlotte, and my caddie lives in Houston and the Shell Houston Open was where I got my first win, in 2008. So it made sense.
I just think it’s incredible what The First Tee does for children, bringing kids who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the game of golf into the sport. It teaches such great life values and skills, and I know this money will help further that work. My older brother, T.J., and I played a lot of golf together when we were younger, so I think it’s great that The First Tee brings kids together for the camaraderie they get at First Tee tournaments and events.
I’ve been helping The First Tee since my days on the Nationwide Tour. I’ve done First Tee clinics. I’ve spoken at events, and to benefit The First Tee of Charlotte, Bill Haas and I auctioned off a day at the golf course with us in Wilmington, N.C. The First Tee has always been an easy charity for me to get behind and assist, and I love being associated with such a good organization.
When our daughter, Marianne, was born in May last year, she was breech, so she had to be delivered Caesarian section. Because of that, her hips weren’t fully formed. We took her to see doctors at Levine Children’s Hospital a couple of times each week for a month, and she had to live in a brace for three months. The doctors and nurses there did such a great job with her, and we are so grateful for all their help.
Levine has had a major impact on our family. My brother’s twins had respiratory illness, and they spent time in Levine. I also have friends who are on the board of the hospital.
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the benefiting charity of the FedEx Classic, would have been a great hospital to support, as well. But I wanted to do something that was a little closer to home with the donation. And Levine is turning into one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation.
By winning my third PGA TOUR event and playing well early in the year, I feel like I’m on my way to reaching many of the goals I have for the 2012 season. And because of Avis, I’ve been able to make charitable contributions that I know will benefit many people.
Editor’s Note: Johnson Wagner, a three-time PGA TOUR champion, is defending his title this week at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
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