Collin Morikawa pledges to donate $1,000 per birdie to Maui wildfire recovery

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Collin Morikawa will donate $1,000 for every birdie he makes on the PGA Tour this month to support those affected by the devastating wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, the American golfer announced Thursday.

The two-time major champion will set aside the sum for each birdie holed across three FedEx Cup Playoff events, starting with the FedEx St. Jude Championship, which teed off in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday.

On course to be the “largest natural disaster in Hawaii’s state history,” according to Hawaii Governor Josh Green, catastrophic wildfires have decimated the island of Maui.

At least 55 people have died and thousands have been displaced amid widespread destruction, with the historic whaling village of Lahaina “burnt to the ground,” Mayor Richard Bissen said Thursday.

Though Morikawa was born and raised in California, his family emigrated to Maui from Japan, with his grandparents owning a restaurant in Lahaina. The restaurant was burnt down in the fires, according to the PGA Tour.

Announcing his plans to donate via a post on Instagram, the 26-year-old posted a picture of a newspaper clipping that advertised the Morikawa Restaurant, adding that Maui has “always held a special place in my heart.”

“Homes have been destroyed, families displaced and it’s far from over,” he wrote. “The people of Hawaii are going to need all the support that we can give them.”

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Morikawa said in the post that he had not yet determined the best place to send the funds raised, but told the PGA Tour later on Thursday that donations would be directed to Maui United Way and World Central Kitchen.

“I know I’m going to ask my sponsors, I’m going to ask people that I know just to help out,” Morikawa added. “Anything helps. Really anything. Per birdie I make, whatever you can afford, whatever you want to put in.

“I want to make a lot of birdies for them. One of our friends texted me, and they’re like, ‘Okay, $100,000.’ I’m like, ‘Shoot, 100 birdies in three tournaments?’ I don’t know if that’s ever been done. But it would be a great feat to say the least.

“It’s hard not to think about it, but at the end of the day, I’m here to win. It’s in the back of my mind for sure. It’s extra motivation and just perspective I think while we’re out there.”

The world No. 22 has already added $6,000 to the pot, having holed six birdies during an impressive opening round at the FedEx St. Jude Championship on Thursday.

Only compatriot Jordan Spieth and South Korea’s Tom Kim started better in the 70-player field at TPC Southwind. Ahead of the start of Friday’s round, Morikawa is two shots behind Spieth at five-under.

The 50 best performing players will progress to the BMW Championship, the second playoff event in Illinois, Chicago, which will determine the top-30 players to compete at the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia.

For more information on how to help relief efforts in Hawaii, click here.

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