BIRDIES FORE LOVE
Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama have positive impact on First Tee through RSM Birdies Fore Love program
November 09, 2021
By Staff , PGATOUR.COM
- November 09, 2021
- Raymond Jin poses with Rory McIlroy. (Submitted)
First Tee – Greater Trenton participant Raymond Jin is not the first person who has been impacted by the organization’s programming.
He’s one of many.
In 2019, Jin participated in the Wells Fargo Succeeding Together contest, in which he submitted an essay with hopes of winning the grand prize – a spot in the Wells Fargo Championship pro-am with any TOUR player of his choosing.
“As I progressed through the program, First Tee completely changed me as a person,” wrote Jin. “Because of First Tee, I am able to make a difference in the lives of young people and those in my community. I am passionate about working with people and mentoring.”
What was once a dream then became reality.
Jin received a video recording from TOUR player Max Homa, sharing the news that he, out of all of the submissions, had been selected as the first-place winner.
Two years later, with many top players in the field, Jin chose to be paired with Rory McIlroy in the pro-am.
McIlroy, a supporter of First Tee, was able to mentor Jin and share some life advice.
“You don't have to try to make friends; rather, you naturally resonate with certain people and communities; find your people, and you'll feel right at home no matter where you go,” said McIlroy.
Just months later, through the RSM Birdies Fore Love Program, McIlroy earned $50,000 to donate to the charity of his choice for recording the most birdies at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP.
Already a supporter of First Tee and seeing how their programming impacts those like Jin, McIlroy decided to donate his charitable dollars to the youth development organization. The donation has helped to further the mission of growing the game of golf and preparing young adults for their future careers.
Like McIlroy, fellow TOUR player Hideki Matsuyama also chose to support First Tee with the $50,000 he earned through the RSM Birdies Fore Love program at the 2020 Houston Open. Matsuyama kept the funds local, donating to the Greater Houston chapter.
Although the First Tee – Greater Houston chapter is a newer program, Matsuyama’s donation has helped to ensure it doesn’t miss a beat in recruiting students in the local community. Classes began this year in March with full participation across all levels of programming.
With Matsuyama’s donation, more coaches are being trained to expand upon the programming, helping to take more students off the waitlist and into the classrooms.
In just seven months, First Tee – Greater Houston now has over 350 students in programs each week, developing their skills in golf and leadership in the community.
A year from now, one could imagine how many more Raymond Jins will come through First Tee, all with the support of those with passions for junior golf such as McIlroy and Matsuyama and the RSM Birdies Fore Love program.
More about RSM Birdies Fore Love
In collaboration with the PGA TOUR, RSM Birdies Fore Love will again donate $1 Million to charitable organizations through an on-course competition over the first ten events of the 2021-22 PGA TOUR Season. In addition to weekly winners, the top three players who accumulate the most birdies (or better) throughout those events will earn $300,000, $150,000 and $50,000, respectively, for children- or family-focused charitable organizations of each player’s choice. Last year, Corey Conners (147 birdies or better) won the overall program, followed by Sepp Straka (141) and Sungjae Im (139). Conners chose to spread the love and donate $240,000 to the Corey & Mallory Conners Family Fund, $50,000 to the Ben Curtis Family Foundation, and $10,000 to Mia’s Miracles.