Sometimes it takes tragedy to bring out the best in people. After the attacks of Sept. 11, it seemed everyone in this country warmed up, happy to just be alive and American.
The recent tragedy in Japan has sparked a ton of interest in both the LPGA and PGA tours, because both tours feature players from the country that was hit by an earthquake and tsunami, and all are doing their part to help as they see fit.
Last week at the Transitions Championship, Ryuji Imada vowed to donate $1,000 for each birdie he made. Inspired by the idea, Bubba Watson selflessly cut a check for $50,000, walked by a PGA Tour official on Friday and handed it to him, no questions asked. The "aww, shucks" approach to donating is one of the reasons Bubba has become so popular the last two years.
But no tour has been hit harder than the LPGA. Some of its top players, including Ai Miyazato, come from Japan and had to sit and watch television coverage of the tragedy as it unfolded on the other side of the planet. After the shock effect settled, these LPGA golfers jumped into action. Miyazato, along with Momoku Ueda and Mika Miyazato (no relation to Ai), have started a website to help fund relief efforts, and have all said it's going to be tough to focus this week at the Kia Classic with something so horrible going on in Japan.
Still, it's nice to see these golfers doing whatever they can to help out fellow countrymen and women. I've caddied in groups with Ai before, and if there is a nicer person on any professional tour, I haven't met them yet. She has a killer instinct on the golf course (six LPGA Tour wins since '09), but she is always walking around with a smile, and always seems like the type of player that would be there if someone needed her.
Tragedy is a tough thing, and this week at the Kia Classic it will be on everyone's minds, but it shows us that some professional athletes are always willing to help, and that's a good thing.
(If you feel like donating to Japan, and following the footsteps here, swing over to Red Cross and do it.)