THOMAS Bjørn is set for one of the biggest challenges of his career when he embarks on a four-day 130-mile charity walk from Wentworth to Wales.
The walk will raise funds for Unicef UK’s Save Generation COVID appeal and the Golf Foundation as part of the European Tour’s Golf for Good initiative.
Inspired by the fundraising exploits of Sir Tom Moore during the COVID-19 lockdown, Bjørn will carry the Ryder Cup from the European Tour HQ at Wentworth, in Surrey, to Newport’s Celtic Manor.
The 2010 Ryder Cup venue is set to host two consecutive European Tour events starting next week, as part of the new UK Swing.
The 49-year-old Dane will set off from Wentworth on Thursday, August 13 – the first day of The Celtic Classic.
The captain of Europe’s winning Ryder Cup team two years ago plans to arrive at Celtic Manor on the final day of the tournament on Sunday.
He will then compete in the second tournament – the ISPS Handa Wales Open, on the Twenty Ten Course – where Europe memorably defeated the United States 14½-13½ 10 years ago.
Bjørn was one of Colin Montgomerie’s vice-captains in 2010, and the 15-time European Tour winner went on to lead Europe in a record Ryder Cup victory at Le Golf National in Paris, with the USA beaten 17½-10½, the largest winning margin in the event’s 92-year history.
He will now take on another formidable challenge in his Wentworth2Wales walk, which will raise money for Unicef UK and the Golf Foundation.
Both causes have special significance for Bjørn, who also intends to raise awareness of the health and wellness benefits golf can offer.
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Captain Tom Moore was inspiration
BJØRN explained how the idea of his Wentworth to Wales charity walk came about.
He said: “During lockdown I had started going on some long walks to regain a bit of fitness, and also because I find it relieves a lot of mental stress for me.
“It was around the same time that Captain Tom – now Sir Tom Moore – was doing his incredible walk for the NHS, and someone called me ‘Ryder Cup Captain Tom’.
“We had a bit of a laugh about it. But the more I looked at Sir Tom, the more I was genuinely inspired by what he was doing. So we came up with the idea of doing a fundraising walk of our own.
“We looked at potential routes and Wentworth to Wales made a lot of sense, although I have to admit I didn’t realise it was over 200km.
“It’s going to be very tough to do it in four days. But I suppose the whole point of doing it is that it’s not meant to be easy.
“If I am going to ask people to donate their hard-earned cash then I need to earn that donation.
“For me, walking between 10-12 hours a day for four consecutive days will push me to the limit.
“As a Dane, who has lived most of my adult life in the UK, I wanted to give something back both globally and locally.
“I feel that UNICEF’s Save Generation COVID appeal and the Golf Foundation are a perfect fit for that.
“I was reading some information from UNICEF recently and they say that coronavirus is the biggest global crisis for children since World War Two.
“And that without urgent action, the coronavirus threatens to reverse 10 years of progress on reducing the number of children dying from preventable causes.
“Like so many fundraising ideas, this all started as a throwaway comment which quickly grew into something which is now very real – and, to be honest, quite scary,” smiled Bjørn.
“And being able to raise some funds to help the game of golf continue to thrive as part of the European Tour’s UK Swing and through the Golf Foundation is something that means a lot from a personal point of view.
“Obviously I want to raise as much as possible. But no matter how much it is, hopefully it can raise awareness and help kids around the world.”
Support from sponsors to help good causes
BJØRN has already received significant support from BMW, Hilton Hotels, Wentworth Club and LetsGetChecked. who have provided COVID-19 testing resources for the European Tour.
The European Tour’s Golf for Good initiative aims to give back in three key areas:–
•Supporting the Communities where the European Tour plays
▪ Rewarding the true heroes, such as the front line workers
▪ Promoting the many health benefits that golf offers.
The Golf for Good initiative was launched at the start of the European Tour’s new UK Swing.
A total of £500,000 from the European Tour is being distributed equally between local charities at each tournament venue, plus charities chosen by the leading 10 players in a mini-Order of Merit, running across all six tournaments. which began at the British Masters at Close House last month.