BIRDIE FOR ALL WINS HEARTS AT PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM CHARITY GOLF EVENT
More than a dozen Birdie for ALL volunteers made an early morning trip to Monterey Saturday, January 19, to cheer for Eddy Lai as he competed for $50,000 in a charity event sponsored by the 2013 Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tournament.
Eddy was representing Birdie for ALL at a "closest to the pin" contest organized by "Birdies for Charity," the philanthropic arm of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The event was held at the 9-hole Peter Hay Golf Course, near The Lodge at Pebble Beach.
The eight golfers who drove the ball closest to a flagged hole 61yards from the tee would win prize money for their charity.
"Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the finals," Birdie for ALL President Wei-xing Chen said.
However, he added, he had the opportunity to present the Birdie-for-ALL mission in a brief speech before Eddy's turn at the tee.
"We try to bring the passion of golf to kids with cancer," he told a crowd of about 75 onlookers.
"We bring the putting greens to the children's hospital, to Ronald McDonald House, to the kid's camp. They don't even have to leave the hospital to enjoy the game."
"The ALL stands for everybody here," he explained, extending his arm in an inclusive arc. "In the meantime the ALL also stands for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia."
The crowd responded warmly. Steve John, president of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and host of the event, captured the mood as he told the crowd,"That was one of the best ones we've ever had."
It was Birdie for ALL's first year participating in the "Birdies for Charity" program as well as Eddy's first time competing in the pin contest.
Thirteen-year-old Eddy was among the youngest in a field of dozens of amateur golfers of all ages and abilities. Each was allowed two swings to propel the ball with just enough force to land near the 61-yard flag.
Despite the event's impressive purse, the competition was run on a light-hearted, informal note. Host Steve John kept up a friendly patter with the crowd, joking with each competitor as they came forward to try their skill.
"Eddy, they're not rooting for you, by the way," the host teased Eddy as the Junior Golfer approached the tee.
Eddy's competition included past rivals from the Junior Golf circuit. There were golfers playing for the AT&T Pebble Beach Jr. Golf Association and the Salinas Valley Jr. Golf Association.
His score of 9 feet put him in the middle of the field of competitors. "Eddy beat most of them," Wei-xing said, "but just not close enough."
"Great shots, Eddy," the host told the Junior as he left the tee with a gracious wave to the crowd. Then to the Birdie for ALL supporters, "Once again, great cause-- thank you!"
First place was won by a golfer for Planned Parenthood of Monterey Bay, whose ball initially went wide of the mark and then bounced twice and gently rolled to a position a hair over 18 inches from the flag.
The winner herself seemed both delighted and surprised. "What a lucky shot!" she said.
After the event, Eddy and Birdie-for-ALL Junior Golfers Andy Zhou, Angel, Grace Chen, Jason, and William were offered the courtesy of playing the entire 9-hole course. They spent the afternoon at the newly redesigned Bayonet course, a landmark among Monterey Peninsula's many world-class courses.
For Eddy, though, the Peter Hay course was the won to beat. Before he left, he put in enough practice at the competition tee to drive the ball in a purposeful arc landing within a yard of the flag.