As the game’s governing body committed to a long time mission of preserving, promoting and celebrating the very best traditions and characteristics of the game, the United States Golf Association (USGA) announce the late Payne Stewart as the recipient of the 2014 Bob Jones Award. Stewart will be honoured during a public ceremony as part of the festivities surrounding the 2014 U.S. Open Championship.
Presented annually since 1955, the Bob Jones Award is the USGA’s highest honour. It recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones, winner of nine USGA championships. Previous recipients of the award include many of golf’s finest champions like Francis Ouimet (1955), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1957), Patty Berg (1963), Arnold Palmer (1971), Jack Nicklaus (1975), Ben Hogan (1976), Nancy Lopez (1998), Annika Sorenstam (2012) and Davis Love III (2013), as well as others who have contributed to the fabric of the game in other ways, including Richard S. Tufts (1967), Joseph C. Dey Jr. (1977), Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (1978), P.J. Boatwright Jr. (1993) and President George H.W. Bush (2008).
Known for his passion for golf, sportsmanship and philanthropy, Stewart won 11 professional events, including three major championships, during an 18-year PGA Tour career that was cut short by a fatal airplane accident in 1999, four months after his second U.S. Open victory. Stewart’s wife, Tracey, and their children, Chelsea and Aaron, will be presented with the USGA’s Bob Jones Award at a public ceremony in the Village of Pinehurst during U.S. Open week on Tuesday, June 10, at 5 p.m. EDT.
“We are so pleased, and know that Payne would be extremely honored and humbled to be recognized with the prestigious Bob Jones Award,” said Tracey Stewart. “Payne loved the game of golf and sought to live out and promote the same principles of high character, sportsmanship and passion that Bob Jones embodied. We are grateful to the USGA for honouring Payne in such a wonderful manner.”
Stewart’s 18-foot par putt on the 72nd hole of the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst provided one of the championship’s most dramatic finishes. The celebratory moment is memorialized with a bronze statue of Stewart near the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2.
“Payne’s legacy continues to shine as an inspiration to players of all ages,” said Thomas J. O’Toole Jr., incoming USGA president. “His spirit and gracious attitude left an indelible mark on everyone who surrounded him. His presence can still be felt by players who were fortunate enough to play with him and by the junior golfers that his Payne Stewart Foundation continues to support.”
“Payne’s larger-than-life personality made him one of the most likable players by peers and fans alike,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “Payne’s strength of character showed through clearly in victory and defeat, which he personally experienced in the U.S. Open. It is only fitting that we will make the presentation of this award to a two-time champion at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in June for players and fans to enjoy.”
“Payne was one of the most engaging and dynamic players that I had the fortune to play with,” said Peter Jacobsen, a USGA and PGA Tour champion and one of Stewart’s closest friends. “He was an intense competitor, but after the last putt dropped, he was warm and supportive, win or lose. That is the definition of sportsmanship and why I am glad to see the USGA honour Payne with the Bob Jones Award.”
Off the course, Stewart donated his time and financial assistance to charitable efforts that promoted the game and supported those in need. His legacy lives on in the Payne Stewart Foundation, formed by Payne and Tracey to teach their children about giving back to the community. The Payne Stewart Foundation supports charities that focus on children in need, as well as the development of the game of golf. Since 2007, the foundation has co-sponsored the American Junior Golf Association’s Payne Stewart Junior Championship.
“Payne Stewart personified the ideals of character, charity and sportsmanship, and is a worthy recipient of the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in the backyard of his greatest triumph,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Because of the virtues he extolled, the annual Payne Stewart Award was introduced by the PGA Tour in 2000 to pay tribute, carry on his spirit and serve as a reminder of just how special he was to us all. We are thrilled to see Payne receiving further recognition for his contributions, both on and off the golf course.”
As the winner of the 1989 PGA Championship and the 1991 and 1999 U.S. Open championships, Stewart is one of only eight players who have won at least two U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.