'My dad used to grab any microphone he could find to let people know about St. Jude.'
Those were the words of Tony Thomas, son of late Danny Thomas – the former tournament host in Memphis – in a pre-tournament press conference.
I remember watching the tournament as a kid and seeing Danny share his conviction about the miracles St. Jude works on a daily basis. Now, after a few days at the tournament, I'm left with but one emotion: this might be the most important tournament on the entire PGA Tour schedule.
If it weren't for the PGA Tour and Danny Thomas, many people wouldn't even know about St. Jude's Hospital. Their mission is difficult enough as they are the world leaders in children's cancer research and treatment. They never turn away any patient, regardless of insurance or financial concerns. They were recently voted the most trustworthy non-profit in America, and the majority of their funding results from America's awareness of them. That simply wouldn't be possible without the St. Jude Classic having been on the PGA Tour schedule for 53 years now.
Even the most cynical person I know couldn't help but be moved by the survival stories that this amazing hospital authors on a daily basis. Certainly every parent takes those stories to heart. And it is the St. Jude's of the world that are at the very heart of the PGA Tour charter.
The Tour raises more money for charity annually than all the other pro sports combined, and even though I, like many of you, have taken that for granted through the years, I can promise that I'll never make that mistake again.
The PGA Tour stars Tiger, Phil, and so many others, and that's why we tune in each week. But that's not what it's about...at all. It's about a commitment to helping.
Each week, millions of dollars are raised to fund an event, and hundreds of volunteers are assembled to run the tournament. They don't do it because of the players who might choose to attend. They do it because they know that there's never a wrong time to do the right thing.
Smith & Nephew saved this year's St. Jude Classic from extinction, and as happy as everyone is that they got involved, their CEO told me that it shouldn't be that way. 'We were happy to be asked,' said Dave Illingworth. 'We were thrilled for the opportunity to be able to give back to our community and continue the tradition of ensuring that St. Jude has the necessary resources to work their life-saving miracles.'
I've been to a lot of golf tournaments throughout me career, but I've never been to one that has touched me more than Memphis. It's an impression that will stay with me forever. Let's hope the St. Jude Classic stays around equally as long.