SANDY — PGA players are no different from any other walk of life. Yes, they can read greens like Sherlock Holmes, place wedge shots with 10 feet of the pin nearly every time, and are longer than the Great Wall of China off the tee-box.
But, at the end of the day, they're human beings that feel the effects of cancer, too.
Phil Mickelson's wife, Amy, a 1990 graduate of Hillcrest High school, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.
Bubba Watson used a vibrant pink driver during his 2012 win at the Masters. This year, Ping, the manufacturing company of the club, will donate $300 to his cancer-fighting charity for every drive Watson blasts over 300 yards.
Well, considering that he's No.1 on the PGA Tour in average driving distance (316.3) after 80 drives, it's safe to assume Ping has already donated over $20,000.
The National Cancer Institute estimates about 1,638,910 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012 with 577,190 deaths – equating to more than 1,500 people a day succumbing to the disease.
On Saturday, the PGA Tour joined with the Huntsman Cancer Institute to promote cancer awareness and encourage funding at the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship at the Willow Creek Country Club during the "Pink on the Links" campaign.
Many players dressed in pink attire; a complementary pink breakfast was served to those in attendance, and pink flags proudly flew on the greens.
It was the first annual event with 100 percent of all proceeds being donated to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. A total fundraising estimate was unavailable.
Jewel Samadder, a gastroenterologist who works in the high-risk colon cancer clinic at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, explained how such events greatly help advancement.
"Every function like this helps raise awareness about cancer," he said. "One of the more important things for the public to know about is Huntsman Cancer Institute is the only NCI (National Cancer Institute) designated cancer center in a five-state region. We're it. We serve millions of patients in this area.
"So, acquiring leading-edge technology is costly (and) events like this fund that," Samadder continued. "Getting the best researchers from around the country to come here and collaborate with us takes money and takes awareness. So, that's important from the funds that are raised through activities such as this."
TV-personality Mary Nickles, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2011, said she was "humbled" that the proceeds were being donated in her name.
"Getting breast cancer — you don't choose that. It's not something that I volunteered to say, 'Hey, I have breast cancer, help me out, or let me help,' " Nickles said while admiring an edition of Watson's pink driver, a highly sought-after raffle item Saturday. "But that's what I turned it into. I don't want it to be about me. As a journalist, you do stories on other people — not yourself. (But) if it can raise awareness, that's what we're after."
Leigh Neumayer, a breast cancer surgeon at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and co-director of the multidisciplinary breast program, said with the help of awareness events, cancer may one day have an antidote.
"All of our hope is we can find a cure for cancer," she said. "If we can find a cure, it means that we have probably found out exactly what causes it. If we can find out what causes all these different cancers, then we could probably prevent it."
IT GETS TO THE BEST OF THEM: "Golf is a fascinating game. It has taken me nearly 40 years to discover that I can't play it." — Ted Ray.
The frustration of golf gets to even the best of players. And Saturday on Willow Creek's No. 6 hole, Darron Stiles and Michael Sim showed just that.
Stiles' tee shot sailed left of the fairway into a fortress of trees. On his second shot, the ball clipped a low-hanging branch, dropping 15 yards in front him. He proceeded to enlighten the tree about his displeasure — with his club.
In the same group, Sim's drive was beautifully placed in the fairway. His approach shot, however, wasn't quite as gorgeous. As he watched his wedge fly into the greenside rough, he slammed his wedge into the ground, embedding it like Excalibur.
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