Golf legend and pop star team up for charity

Irish pop star Ronan Keating and local golfing icon Gary Player display the trophy at the inaugural Ronan Keating Golfing Experience which took place last weekend.

Irish pop star and former member of Boyzone, Ronan Keating and local golfing icon, Gary Player, teamed up over the weekend to raise R1 million for charity.

A Night with Ronan Keating charity auction, hosted at the One and Only at the Waterfront last Friday, was followed by the Ronan Keating Golfing Experience, hosted by Mr Player at the Westlake golf course the following day.

Inspired by the loss of their mothers to cancer, the two teamed up in support of cancer awareness, raising funds for Mr Keating and Mr Player’s foundations.

The singer chose the oncology unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital as the beneficiary of his foundation’s share of the funds raised.

“I visited the hospital (and) they are doing amazing work. It’s just heartbreaking when you see the children going through their chemotherapy,” he said.

“So the money that we are donating, we are investing in the hospital so that it can improve the oncology ward, with better rooms (and) better facilities.”

Dr Marc Hendricks – Red Cross Hospital’s own “singing doctor” – who was the opening act at the charity event, said he was humbled that Mr Keating chose their hospital as a beneficiary.

“We do important work and this will enhance the care we provide for children with cancer and their families,” he said.

Mr Player and Mr Keating first met at the Gary Player Invitational which raises money for charities in the countries the tournaments take place in, and then started supporting each other’s charities.

“He is a wonderful man. He goes around the world – the same as I do – raises money for and helps to changes millions of people’s lives,” said Mr Player of Mr Keating.

Mr Player, 82, who is the only golfer in history to have won the grand slam in golf on the regular tour and in the seniors’ tour, launched the Gary Player Foundation 35 years ago to help fund education, healthcare and provide extra-curricular activities for underprivileged children.

Half of the money raised at the A Night with Ronan Keating event, went to the Gary Player Foundation.

Mr Player, who still focuses on keeping fit, has appealed to all youngsters to get an education, exercise and eat a healthy diet so they do not develop lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.

At the golf day, Mr Keating and Mr Player captained teams, with Team Keating emerging victorious after the 18 holes were played.

Mr Keating, who the previous night had entertained the audience with some of his biggest hits, among them When You Say Nothing at All, Life is a Rollercoaster and If tomorrow never comes, said he was still working on his musical career and had just finished working with Boyzone on their 25th anniversary album which will be released in September.

He said he was also working in radio in the UK, on a solo offering which would be released next year, and after leaving South Africa was heading to Australia to take part in a TV show called All together now.