Holywood, Ireland - World No 1 golfer Rory McIlroy wants to help children around the world through a foundation and on his golf bag.
McIlroy on Thursday announced he has started The Rory Foundation. Among the first projects is to bring attention to children by putting the name of charities on his bag when possible. McIlroy starts his season next week in Abu Dhabi.
The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland is geared toward work like this. Two years ago, he went to earthquake-ravaged Haiti the week before the US Open to try to raise the spirits of children. He then won his first major at Congressional, setting a US Open record at 16-under 268.
"When I was younger my parents sacrificed everything to allow me to play the game I love," McIlroy said. "Having that support from my family gave me the opportunity to chase my dreams. But I know that every child is not so fortunate. My aim is that The Rory Foundation will support children's charities big and small, around the world, that try to give kids that helping hand."
He starts with "The 6 Bags Project," in which he will display the name of a children's charity in each of the first six tournaments he plays. During the tournament, the bag will be auctioned through www.roryfoundation.com, with the money going to that charity.
The Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children will be on the bag at Abu Dhabi.
"This association with Rory will not only have a significant impact on children and young people who look up to Rory and are inspired by him, but will also help to maintain Rory's very important links to Northern Ireland and he moves increasingly into a global circuit," said Gillian Cleery, the CEO of the charity.
McIlroy said he would have Boys & Girls Club of Tucson for the Match Play Championship in Arizona; Child Protection Team of Palm Beaches for the Honda Classic, First Tee Miami-Dade Amateur Golf Association for the Cadillac Championship and Chinquapin School for the Houston Open.
Still to be decided is a children's charity near Augusta, Georgia, for the Masters.
In the case of the Houston Open, McIlroy contacted tournament director Steve Timms, who provided him a list of options from which McIlroy chose a charity. The Chinquapin School is for students who excel from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. The students serve as standard-bearers at the tournament.
"It's going to be awesome," Timms said. "I thought it was one of the most novel things I've ever encountered... Notwithstanding the money he raises, because we don't know how much that will be, it creates such an awareness with the No. 1 player in the world at this time showcasing the (charity)."
More innovative fundraisers are in the works.
"I had a childhood - a great childhood - and if The Rory Foundation can help one child achieve a better quality of life, then job done," McIlroy said.