JUSTIN LEONARD HEADLINES GREEN COAT GALA
CHICAGO, Illinois (November 3, 2017) – Golf great Justin Leonard was the featured guest Friday, Nov. 3 at the Western Golf Association’s seventh annual Green Coat Gala, one of the largest annual fundraisers for the Evans Scholars Foundation.
More than 350 supporters attended the black-tie affair at The Peninsula Chicago, which was headlined by Leonard, winner of the 1997 Open Championship and a three-time member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. All proceeds benefit the ESF, a nonprofit administered by the WGA, which provides full college tuition and housing scholarships to caddies. Currently, a record 965 Evans Scholars are attending 19 universities nationwide.
Leonard, 45, a native of Dallas, Texas, was at his best on golf’s biggest stages. He is one of only five players ever to win the prestigious Western Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA Championship. He was similarly successful on the PGA TOUR, where he won 12 times, including at the 1997 Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club.
In 1999, he made one of the most famous putts in Ryder Cup history. His 45-footer for birdie on the 17th hole at the Country Club in Brookline capped an improbable comeback victory for the United States, which had trailed 10-6 heading into the final round.
At the Gala, veteran NBC/Golf Channel commentator and emcee Mark Rolfing held a “fireside chat” with Leonard, where they touched on topics including the importance of caddies to the game of golf, his Ryder Cup appearances and the game’s young stars.
The event also featured a speech by Michigan State Evans Scholar Alum Lauren Farhat. A former caddie at Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville, Michigan, Lauren shared her story of caddying with a prosthetic leg. She was born with a condition that caused her right leg to be significantly shorter than her left. When she was 7, a portion of her leg was amputated, creating the ability for her to use a prosthetic.
She recalled sitting in hospital beds as a child, worrying between multiple surgeries, about her future. “I often wondered if I was ever going to be able to do anything, if there was ever going to be anything good to come out of this. Caddying and the Evans Scholarship have given me a future and have helped me to live a part of my life that I had always hoped for.”
Past featured speakers at the Green Coat Gala have included Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller.
The funds raised from the 2017 event will help send caddies to college – at a time when a record number of applicants are applying for the Evans Scholarship. The Evans Scholars Program is expanding from coast to coast, with leaders planning to have 1,000 caddies in school by the year 2020.
“The work we are doing to change the lives of bright, young students is more important ever, and we are incredibly thankful to everyone for their dedicated support of the seventh annual Green Coat Gala,” said WGA Chairman David Robinson.
The 2017 event co-chairs included Tim and Stacey Cavanagh, Mick and Karen O’Rourke, Mike and Sharyl Mackey and Bill Rogers.