Ronan Mowrey, 12, sees ‘Most Colorful PGA TOUR Tournament in the World’ through new lens
March 21, 2019
By Doug Milne, PGATOUR.COM
- March 21, 2019
Paul Casey surprises a young fan at Valspar
By and large, Tuesday was a gray day at the Valspar Championship.
Under cloudy skies spitting rain off and on all day, the temperature never reached higher than 66 degrees.
But, for the PGA TOUR event touted as the “Most Colorful PGA TOUR Tournament in the World,” the Valspar Championship still managed to make it a vibrant day.
And, a life-changing one.
Ronan Mowrey, 12, was born with color vision deficiency. Unlike color blindness, which presents everything in black and white, color vision deficiency doesn’t eliminate color; it makes differentiating between colors problematic.
After hearing of an opportunity for a colorblind fan to wear EnChroma glasses at the local PGA TOUR event, Bright Eyes Tampa helped research and find the perfect candidate to surprise at the Valspar Championship.
The designated individual and family would enjoy a VIP experience at the Valspar Championship, which included a private behind-the-scenes tour of everything that goes into the bringing the tournament to fruition each year.
As fate would have it, Ronan was chosen, and was made aware of much of what the day would entail.
Much, but not all.
What Ronan didn’t know, though, was that it had been arranged for him to not only meet defending Valspar Championship winner Paul Casey on the 18th tee during a practice round, but to play the daunting par-4 with him.
When the last putt dropped, Casey surprised Ronan with a pair of EnChroma glasses, designed to enhance one’s view of colors. The glasses, courtesy of Bright Eyes Tampa, had been customized for Ronan.
“The glasses just changed everything around me,” said Ronan. “Everything just popped out. Lighter colors all of a sudden got brighter. I could just see things more vividly. So, that was really cool.”
Ronan had no prior knowledge of any of the interaction with the defending champion. When he sank his last putt, he realized he had something pretty remarkable to look back on. When Casey presented him with the EnChroma glasses, Ronan had even more to look forward to – in a lot of ways.
“That’s the best experience ever, to be able to hand those glasses over to Ronan and see his face and his reaction to what he is now seeing, and going to be able to see even better,” said Casey. “I want to thank Valspar, EnChroma, the doctors and everybody here who gave me this opportunity as well. I thank them for what they’ve done for Ronan, but also for the opportunity to be a part of it. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes the PGA TOUR and everyone associated with it so great.”
“Paul was really great and really nice,” said Ronan. “He showed me how to read the green better and then gave me the glasses. I did not know I was going to get to meet Paul Casey, or that I was going to get to keep the glasses, so this is a really big surprise. I mean, I just started playing golf with him, so that was really cool.”
How did Ronan play?
Quite well – with just a little help from Casey, of course.
“Ronan did great,” said Casey. “He struck it well off the tee. We helped him a little bit up the 18th fairway. We then gave him his putter to try and replicate a birdie putt someone, hopefully me, will have to win this championship on Sunday.”
“This is so incredibly wonderful,” said Theresa, Ronan’s mother. “This is such a special day for him. It’s incredibly special for all of us, but this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing for Ronan.”
There are three different receptors in the back of the eye, which collect different kinds of colors. In Ronan’s case, one of the receptors does not work properly, making certain colors less distinctive than to those without vision setbacks.
EnChroma glasses use technology to filter out the wavelength of light, which, in theory, make the differences between colors more obvious. While they don’t necessarily make the colors as apparent as they are to one with normal vision, they do help make it easier to distinguish one color from another.
The glasses produce instant results for some, but for others, it’s a slower, more gradual process to achieve results. Sometimes, it takes the brain more time to absorb the information and then connect with the various colors.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Ronan, his family and the PGA TOUR,” said Dr. Beth Knighton, Ronan’s Optometrist at Bright Eyes Vision Care in nearby Westchase. “Everyone is truly getting to benefit from watching this amazing event.”
“My charity I support is UNICEF and kids,” Casey said. “So, if it has anything to do with kids, it’s an automatic ‘yes’ from me. I’m standing here now just trying to imagine the impact that this day, getting these glasses, will have on Ronan’s life. It’s tough to even comprehend what he’s going through. We’re here at the Valspar Championship, which is all about colors. I can see these colors and didn’t even think about something like other people not being able to see or have what I have. It’s something we just think everyone is born with, but they’re not.”
“Paul is just such a wonderful person,” said Theresa. “He was fantastic with Ronan, with the fans. He’s just a great representative of the PGA TOUR.”
In addition to the EnChroma glasses and surprise with Paul Casey, Ronan also received a complimentary eye exam from Bright Eyes Tampa, as well as five gallons of paint from Valspar to paint his room the color he best sees fit to brighten it with.
The mark of a truly great experience isn’t based upon how well the story’s told or what affect that experience had on one person. The best experiences are those which impact many and, because of that, become stories for a lifetime shared forever.
“I’ve just experienced some of the coolest emotions ever in the last 15-20 minutes,” said Casey. “This was a life-changing moment for Ronan, but it was also the scene of a significant moment in my career, as well. So, I now have even greater memories of this golf course and the Valspar Championship.”
“This was incredibly cool” Theresa said, “and will be a day Ronan will never forget.”
Fittingly, the weather report for the Valspar Championship the remainder of the week calls for bright sun under an impeccably-blue sky.