Maginnes: TOUR players use fashion to promote a great cause

August 25, 2007
By John Maginnes PGATOUR.com Contributor

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Some of the outfits that you see on the PGA TOUR today look like rejects worn by Midwesterners attending an insurance convention on Miami Beach. White belts cinching trousers that look like they were made from drapes in a Motel 6 have become the norm. It almost makes you wonder what Don Johnson is doing these days.

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But this week more than two dozen TOUR players are using fashion to make a statement for a worthy and wonderful cause. Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk and others are wearing turquoise blue belts with IFF etched into the silver buckle.

Ian's Friends Foundation is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to raise funds to support pediatric brain tumor research.

The smallest of the blue alligator belts designed by the House of Fleming is being worn by smiling Ian Yagoda. He is a precocious 3-year-old whose parents, Phil and Cheryl, founded the Ian's Friends Foundation after their son was diagnosed with a Type 2 Astrocytoma tumor in his brain stem. In Ian's case the tumor is completely inoperable and little treatment is available.

Following the diagnosis, the Yagodas were astonished to learn that there was almost no public funding for research for an affliction that affects nearly 40,000 children in the United States.

After establishing the foundation, the Yagodas formed alliances with the beltmaker, House of Fleming, and Bettinardi Golf to help with their efforts. Most recently, Audemars Piguet, the luxury watch manufacturer, has signed on to do their part in the fight to eradicate this disease.

Asked how they came to the decision to use the blue belts to raise awareness, Phil explained, "We were looking for something distinctive that went beyond the usual bracelets that people wear."

The Yagodas then contacted longtime friend Matt Kuchar about trying to get the PGA TOUR players involved. Phil and Cheryl are overwhelmed by the support that the TOUR pros have shown them and their foundation this week at The Barclays.

They gush when they tell stories of Jerry Kelly playing with Ian on the driving range and talk about Anthony Kim, the 22-year-old rookie, who has taken an incredible interest in their fight. Jim Furyk has said that he plans on wearing his distinctive blue alligator belt the rest of the year.

The Yagodas say that the involvement and interest of the PGA TOUR players has gone well beyond their expectations. Phil and Cheryl said that they expected some support but that they never expected the players to take the personal interest that they have.

Throughout the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, you will see the world's best players wrapped in blue belts. The Yagodas are planning to bring Ian to THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola next month. Wouldn't it be nice if all 30 of the contestants in Atlanta showed their support for the Ian's Friends Foundation? Either way Ian and the Yagodas have made a lot of new friends at Westchester this week.

For more information, please visit www.iansfriendsfoundation.com. You may not be able to play like a TOUR player. You probably don't want to dress like most of them either. But it turns out that turquoise blue belts go with anything. Don't take my word for it, ask Ian.