OCU alum Michael Palmer captured his first professional golf tournament victory, but didn’t spend his winnings on himself.
Rather, Palmer donated the 8,000 rand he won to the Jeandre Fourie Fund to help a golfer who recently suffered a back injury and faces a lengthy and costly rehabilitation without medical insurance.
Palmer sank a birdie putt on the 18th hole to card a 64 and secure a seven-stroke victory in the Jeandre Fourie Classic on Feb. 25 at Ruimsig Country Club. He shot a 66-67-64–197 to tie a 54-hole IGT Tour record set by fellow OCU alum Anthony Michael.
Fourie fell off a zip line while celebrating his birthday Feb. 21. As a result, Fourie suffered a fractured C6 vertebrae. Doctors performed a successful surgery on Fourie at Milpark Trauma Unit.
Fourie’s medical expenses have added up to 500,000 rand thus far, and his rehabilitation is expected to cost 1.2 to 1.5 million rand, which is between $100,000 and $125,000. Golfers have come to Fourie’s aid by organizing charity tournaments to go towards his bills.
Palmer had only recently turned pro. The Jeandre Fourie Classic was his third IGT Tour start.
“This week has been about Jeandre Fourie, the young player who broke his back on the weekend in a freak zip-line accident,” Palmer said after winning the tournament. “Everyone who finished in the money this week pledged five percent of their earnings. When I think about what lies ahead for this guy, my 8,000 rand cheque is just a drop in the bucket, but every little bit helps. I’m really grateful that I am in a position to donate my winnings to the fund. I have full confidence that I will see Jeandre playing competitive golf soon.”
Palmer became a four-time all-American from 2009-13 for the Stars. Palmer helped OCU win NAIA men’s golf championships in 2010, 2012 and 2013. He won the 2010 Phil Mickelson Award as the NAIA’s top freshman men’s golfer as well as completing his master’s degree while attending OCU.
“Michael has always been a class act, and this is just another example of his character,” OCU Coach Kyle Blaser said of Palmer’s gesture. “OCU has produced numerous golfers playing on the professional ranks, but to donate your entire first check is something special. Michael continues to make the OCU golf family proud.”