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PGA Tour players unite to support Maui community after devastating fires

The hall of historic Waiola Church in Lahaina and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission are engulfed in flames on Aug. 8, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Matthew Thayer/The Maui News via AP)

The picturesque island of Kapalua, Hawaii, is typically a serene setting for the start of a new year on the PGA Tour. However, this year, the atmosphere is different. The devastating fires that swept through Lahaina in August still hang in the air, leaving a faint whiff of smoke as a reminder of the destruction that occurred.

But amidst the charred remains and the somber mood, there are glimmers of hope and resilience. Collin Morikawa, a regular visitor to Kapalua, has taken it upon himself to lend a helping hand. Before hitting the range, Morikawa collaborated with Hua Momona Farms, a local farm specializing in microgreens. Together, they provided free meals made from locally sourced ingredients to the Maui families displaced by the fires.

As Morikawa donned an apron and shivered in the cold, it was clear that this week meant more to him than just another tournament. His grandparents had a restaurant in Lahaina, and the devastating fires had demolished the once-thriving Front Street. The memories of his childhood visits to Lahaina made this week especially poignant for him.

'This week I'll always have the community of Lahaina, the community of Maui, in my head,' Morikawa said. 'And that's going to push me to hopefully do great things this week.'

Morikawa is not alone in his concern. Xander Schauffele, whose father used to be a teaching pro in Hawaii, was quick to get involved in the aftermath of the fires. He partnered with Hawaiian Host Group to match donations, striving to provide immediate support to those affected.

Schauffele also hosted a clinic for 60 junior golfers impacted by the fires, bringing smiles and joy during a challenging time. The presence of the tournament in such close proximity to the devastation gives these acts of kindness an even greater weight.

As the players prepare for the Sentry Tournament, they're not just focused on their own golf games. They understand the power they hold to bring about change and provide relief to a community in need. Tony Finau, for example, hosted a family tournament while encouraging donations to support the Lahaina cause.

Rickie Fowler collaborated with Cobra Puma Golf to create a hat bearing an 'L' for Lahaina. The proceeds from the hat sales will be donated to the Maui United Way. Patrick Cantlay's foundation also launched a partnership with the First Responders Children's Foundation, initiating a fundraising campaign to aid families impacted by the fires.

The PGA Tour, known for its charitable efforts, has placed an even greater emphasis on helping the Lahaina community heal. While the damage is extensive and the healing process lengthy, the tour and its players are determined to contribute in any way they can.

Amidst the excitement of the tournament, there is a profound sense of empathy and compassion among the players. They recognize the resilience of the Lahaina community and strive to restore a sense of normalcy in any way possible.

As the Sentry Tournament tees off with a Hawaiian blessing on the first tee, the players are committed to making a difference. From pledging money for every birdie and eagle to organizing 'Lahaina Strong Saturday,' where fans are encouraged to wear red shirts in support, the momentous efforts to rebuild and help those affected will not go unnoticed.

Jon Rahm, the defending champion, is absent from the tournament due to his suspension for joining LIV Golf. However, the other 59 players are fully invested in making this year's season opener one that brings about positive change and showcases the true spirit of golf.

So, as the players tee off and spectators fill the fairways, the Sentry Tournament at Kapalua, though unique and different this year, is a testament to the power of community, resilience, and the compassionate spirit of the PGA Tour.

On this beautiful island, where the Pacific waves crash against the shore and humpback whales breach in the distance, the game of golf becomes a vehicle for healing and restoration. And through their combined efforts, the players and the Lahaina community are shaping a story of strength and unity that will resonate for years to come.

*This blog was written with a creative tone to capture the essence of the unique circumstances surrounding the Sentry Tournament.

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