PENSACOLA — Professional golfer Bubba Watson from Bagdad is donating $500,000 to the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart as a result of winning the MetLife MatchUp, an online voting contest. Sacred Heart is a member of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

Watson has won nine championships on the PGA Tour and is a two-time winner of the Masters Tournament. He was one of 10 professional golfers who were finalists in the MetLife MatchUp.

Fans voted online for the best recovery shot of the season. The player whose shot had the most votes would win a $1 million prize.

During the voting Watson announced that, if he were to win, he would donate $500,000 to the Studer Children’s Hospital and use the other $500,000 to support junior golf.  Thanks to an outpouring of support from Watson’s global fan base and the Northwest Florida community, Watson became the 2017 MetLife MatchUp Champion. 

The shot that won Watson the MetLife MatchUp took place in the opening round of The Greenbrier Classic 2017. Watson found his tee shot in the woods requiring a shot into the fairway. His third shot landed on the green on the par-4 13th hole and finished it off with a 41-foot putt to save par.

Watson’s donation will support the construction of Sacred Heart’s new four-story children’s hospital, which will increase access to specialized pediatric and maternity care and consolidate inpatient pediatric services in one convenient location. 

“I have always been proud to represent Pensacola around the world,” Watson said. “It’s where I was born and raised. People in Pensacola helped me to become better at the game of golf and to become a better person.  When I came back to Pensacola after living elsewhere for eight years, I thought about how I could help the city, how I could become an important part of it.  Living here with my family, I want Pensacola and the entire Gulf Coast to be a great place for all families.  When I learned about the Children’s Hospital and the need for the new building and expanded services it really hit home.  I knew I had to help the dream come true. Completion of the children’s hospital is like bringing a championship to Pensacola.”

The MetLife MatchUp marks a continuation of Watson’s support of The Children’s Hospital. In 2015, the annual charity event Bubba Bash, run by the Bubba Watson Foundation, raised $100,000 for the new children’s hospital.

“We’re thrilled to have such enthusiastic support from the Watson family during our construction of the new children’s hospital,” Susan Davis said, president and CEO of Sacred Heart Health System. “In addition to his professional golf success, Bubba Watson has worked tirelessly to better our community. We consider it both a blessing and an honor that he’s chosen to give so generously to Sacred Heart. This gift will touch the lives of thousands of sick and injured children for generations to come.”

The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is the region’s only children’s hospital, serving families across Northwest Florida, South Alabama and South Georgia. Expected to be complete in spring 2019, the new children’s hospital will be connected to the front of the existing children’s hospital and will include a pediatric emergency room and trauma center, new operating rooms dedicated to pediatric surgery, an expanded neonatal intensive care unit, a pediatric intensive care unit, a pediatric oncology unit, a medical/surgical unit, observation beds and a pediatric rehabilitation gym. 

The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is a 117-bed facility that offers services to meet a child’s medical needs, from a pediatric emergency room and neonatal intensive care unit to pediatric intensive care, cancer care, rehabilitation and a medical staff of more than 120 board-certified physicians across 29 pediatric specialties.

The Children’s Hospital provides care to children, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay.

Visit www.sacred-heart.org/childrenshospital for more information about the services available at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart.