By Bailey Eichner
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Justin Thomas wrapped up his time at the Phoenix Open on a high note.
At the conclusion of the third round on Feb. 12, Thomas announced he will donate $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley as a part of a Ford sponsorship at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
The financial gift is part of a local Ford dealership’s sponsor with the open. The dealership has a pin on the 124-yard par-3, considered the most coveted hole by golf fans around the world.
Thomas notched his ball closest to that pin and was granted the ultimate prize: a $10,000 check to give to a charity of his choice.
“It is a great bonus to hit it close to the hole, especially a hole like 16 where you have a lot of pressure,” Thomas said following the round. “The opportunity to give back to the Boys & Girls Club is very special to my heart, and I hope it goes to great use and helps out a lot of children.”
Sam Fowler, vice president of development and strategy at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley, called Thomas a “real champion of kids across the country and the Boys & Girls Club” for his generous donation and his previous involvement with clubs around the nation.
“This is going to have much more of an impact than a check,” Fowler said. “When we bring this news back to the children on Monday, they are going to freak.”
Fowler explained the difficult circumstances that over 13,000 children experience in the area. The donation from Thomas and Ford will provide children with homework aid, hot meals and adult mentors who will serve as their caretakers.
Thomas knows this check is bigger than his reputation and the game of golf. After a long history of his efforts with clubs around the country, including Riviera and Kentuckiana, it was a no-brainer for Thomas to continue his efforts in the Valley.
Out of 10 charities to choose from, Thomas went with the local organization.
“It’s a win-win for him, us and the Boys & Girls Club,” said John Nissen, the local Ford dealership chairperson. “The WM Phoenix Open is a wonderful venue to showcase the Ford vehicles, Justin Thomas and the Boys & Girls Club.”
After tying for eighth in Phoenix, Thomas headed to the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles, where he placed sixth overall at 13-under-par-71.
Bailey Eichner is a sports media graduate student at Medill. You can follow her on Twitter at @BaileyEichner.