Monday Pause, Good Cause
March 15, 2010
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida
By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR Staff
On a typical Monday morning, Pat McMahon is in his midtown Manhattan office at 7 a.m. By 10:30, his hectic work day is well underway. “It’s very intense, and you have a lot of things going on in the markets around the globe,” says McMahon, principal and co-chief investment officer at MKP Capital Management.
While McMahon would be monitoring the world’s markets as a hedge-fund manager, at that time of the morning talk-show host Rush Limbaugh would find himself preparing for his nationally syndicated radio show at his Palm Beach studio. “Normally, at 10:30, I would be in the middle of intense show prep. We’d be an hour-and-a-half from broadcast time right now.”
Instead, this Monday morning, both men are standing adjacent to the practice putting green at PGA National Resort and Spa. They’re not thinking about work, it’s 70 degrees, there’s a light breeze blowing and not 25 feet away, Limbaugh spots Ernie Els, who late Sunday won the World Golf Championships-CA Championship. The Big Easy is chatting with World Golf Hall of Famers Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd.
“This is not tough duty,” Limbaugh laughs.
McMahon and Limbaugh, along with 64 other amateurs and 22 PGA TOUR and Champions Tour professionals, gathered at PGA National for the Ernie Els for Autism Pro-Am. The event, in its second year, is designed to help fund the Els Center for Excellence, a proposed $30-million facility that will help with the education of those affected with autism, while providing research into the disorder.
McMahon became friendly with Els when the two played a round of golf at Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island. McMahon was aware that Els and his wife, Liezl, had a son with autism, and their friendship flourished after their 18 holes on the golf course.
“It was an amazing day. Ernie and Liezl are two of the nicest people you could ever meet,” he says. “I had been involved with autism for well over 10 years. Very good friends of mine have a child who is affected. I got involved with the Autism Coalition and was more than willing to expand my effort into Ernie’s foundation.”
Marvin Shanken is the publisher of Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator, a man Els calls “the driving force behind this event.” As a longtime Limbaugh friend, Shanken invited the radio host to play, and Limbaugh immediately accepted—knowing full well it would conflict with his daily radio broadcast.
“Everybody shows up for Ernie Els,” Shanken says. “It’s very clear that there is a universal love out here and an appreciation for Ernie. There is just an enormous consciousness on the part of the PGA TOUR players. Ernie mentions what he’s doing and some of the greatest golfers in the world show up.”
Shanken motions to the putting green, where Steve Stricker is warming up, Justin Leonard is talking on his phone, Rory Sabbatini is walking toward the green with his golf bag on his shoulder and Robert Allenby is chatting with Stuart Appleby. After the grind of a World Golf Championships a day earlier, everybody is ready to unwind for a good cause.
Limbaugh recognizes there is plenty happening in the world of politics that would provide fodder for his No. 1-rated radio show. He’s been off the air since Friday, and he’s seen and heard more than a few things coming out of Washington that he said he is itching to discuss with his listeners. On this day, however, Limbaugh is playing golf, leaving his loyal fan base to wait 24 more hours for the next show.
“For someone like Ernie, who didn’t have to go public, to decide to go public with news of his son’s autism, well, I think it was a very courageous thing for him to do. Just to be involved in a cause like this is gratifying to me,” says Limbaugh.
“I’m just very honored to be here,” adds McMahon, summing up perfectly why a Manhattan office and a Palm Beach studio were dark Monday.
Editor’s Note: To donate to Els for Autism, click here
The United Nations has determined that April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. For more information, click here
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