Casey and friends make a difference in the desert
January 18, 2020
By Doug Milne & Mark Williams, PGATOUR.COM
- January 18, 2020
Paul Casey eagles No. 11 at The American Express
On the PGA TOUR, victories come in astounding fashion, arguably every single day. Sure, one player will be crowned champion each Sunday, but through the unparalleled efforts of its players, so many others reap far greater rewards. Those are the ones who receive the prize of things like food and shelter, medicine – and, even life.
More inspiring than the hard-charging assaults TOUR players put on the courses is the collective soft heart they are driven by to turn those courses into platforms.
No player on TOUR epitomizes that M.O. more so than Paul Casey.
So, here’s the deal with just part of Casey’s commitment to UNICEF. It’s not a well-known tidbit of information, for recognition isn’t what drives the three-time TOUR winner. For every birdie he makes in any professional event – PGA TOUR or otherwise – Casey donates $100 to UNICEF. He doubles the amount for eagles.
“Paul is a true champion for children in all that he does,” said Shanell Mosley, Deputy Director of Sports Partnerships at UNICEF USA. “He wears the UNICEF logo on his golf bag with so much pride and continually educates fans about UNICEF's work, advocates on behalf of the rights of children around the world and raises crucial funds for the world's most vulnerable children.”
Since 2016, Casey has raised more than $300,000 for UNICEF.
During the second round of The American Express at PGA West in La Quinta, CA., Casey’s amateur partners were Jimmy Dunne, vice chairman at Wall Street investment banking firm Piper Sandler, and investment banker, Adebayo Ogunlesi, a managing partner at the private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners.
An idea entered Casey’s head.
“Yesterday, I asked Steve Squeri, the CEO of American Express, if he wanted to match my pledge, since I’m paired with him on Saturday at the Stadium Course,” Casey said. “He said, ‘Yeah, brilliant’.”
Casey made the same ask of Dunne, with whom he has been friends for years.
“He's such a good guy,” Casey said. “So, I pitched the idea to him this morning, and he goes, ‘Yeah, I'm in. But I'm going to do one better than that,’.”
Dunne would offer $1,000 for every birdie Casey made and $10,000 for every birdie he made.
He also pledged $10,000 for birdie he made himself in Friday’s second round.
“I made five, but the beautiful thing about this story is that Jimmy's a good player,” Casey said. “He hit some great shots, but this is a difficult golf course, and I could see him, he was trying so hard. He missed a few putts for birdie, but then we got to the 15th hole and that’s when it all changed.”
Dunne hit his tee just into the right rough, leaving himself 165 yards from the hole.
For an eagle, he holed his approach shot.
“He comes running up the hill with the biggest smile on his face,” said Casey. “He said we had never discussed eagles. I told him that was completely at his discretion.”
Dunne would offer up $25,000 for the feat. In addition, Dunne secured a matching amount from Ogunlesi.
“And it gets better, because on the next hole Jimmy almost flies it in for an eagle,” Casey said. “The ball ran to the back of the green and then he holed it for a birdie, which is another $10,000.”
When the group finished their round, Casey did some quick math and informed Dunne and Ogunlesi that – all in – they were each in for $40,000. Dunne, though, took issue with Casey.
“Jimmy looks at me and says ‘We can't, 40 is no good’,” Casey said. “He looks at Adebayo and suggests $50,000 each…to UNICEF. Adebayo said ‘Sure’.”
“I was immediately stunned when I heard the news,” said Mosley. “In fact, I had no words and it made me rather emotional because I could hear the joy in Paul's voice.”
“That's what's cool about these events to me,” Casey said. “Yes, somebody's going to win at the end of the week, but it's the impact that it has on people's lives that truly makes the difference. Golf and the PGA TOUR are the platforms that allow these kinds of things to happen. It’s the coolest.”
“He has an incredibly big heart and is so passionate about the work that UNICEF does,” said Mosley. “He continues to leverage his platform to make a difference for children and it means so much to the UNICEF family. We speak about the resiliency of UNICEF staff in the field and in a very real sense, Paul is an extension of our team. He won't stop until every child has their basic needs met such as access to health care, clean water, nutrition, and education.”
As is the case for every TOUR player, some finishes are better than others for Casey. But, when he knows his every swing helps give children across the world a greater chance of getting into some swing of normalcy, he carries on, head held high.
“He continually uses his platform for good and to raise awareness about UNICEF's lifesaving work for children,” Mosley said. “We are also incredibly grateful to the individuals that accepted Paul's birdie challenge and for their generous contribution. I can guarantee this is a story that many of us will never forget. Who would have thought a round of golf could literally save a child's life?”
Apparently, Paul did.
For more information or to donate to UNICEF, visit unicefusa.org/wontstop