Ryder Cup star Lee Westwood was presented with the Golf Foundation‘s ‘Spirit of Golf‘ Award at Turnberry on Monday.
The prestigious award, now in its third year, recognises a superb contribution to junior golf by a leading player. Previous winners are Gary Player and Tony Jacklin.
Golf Foundation Chairman Charles Harrison presented a finely crafted glass and silver claret jug trophy to Lee Westwood at the R&A Junior Golf Centre at Turnberry.
Lee has for the last eight years endorsed the ‘Charity Challenge‘, a fundraising project for leading golf charity the Golf Foundation, which raises the profile of junior grass roots golf development among club members all over Great Britain. Before receiving his award Lee took part in his own challenge with local schoolchildren, as he played Tri-Golf against an energetic team of boys and girls, with Lee emerging as the narrow winner.
Foundation Chairman Charles Harrison said: "Lee took part in Golf Foundation-funded group coaching sessions as a child and the Foundation continued its support by providing him with vouchers to enable him to get additional coaching. He returned the favour by winning the Foundation‘s Age Group Championship in 1987 and 1988. His backing of our organisation is hugely appreciated and his support of junior golf in the UK is fantastic. We are thrilled to present him with the Spirit of Golf Award for 2009."
Lee Westwood said: "I am very honoured to receive this award. I certainly owe a debt of gratitude to the Foundation for helping me as a youngster. Encouraging juniors is very important and it‘s great to see some youngsters here today who could one day be an Open Champion or Ladies‘ Open Champion."
Lee has not only been a consistent supporter of the Golf Foundation, the charity committed to the sporting and social development of young people through golf. He has championed junior golf throughout his career and recently launched a series of three-day golf academies around England (Lee Westwood Golf Academy 2009) for boys and girls aged seven to 16 years old.
The children who challenged Lee at Tri-Golf, from Powfoot Golf Club, Dumfriesshire, asked Lee some bright questions at the end of their session: how he started in golf (his father was fed up with being pestered on fishing trips); what he would have done if he hadn‘t been a golfer ("centre-forward for Nottingham Forest"), and who he thought would win The Open (Lee agreed with the questioner that it could be his year this time).
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: "Through his exploits on Tour and in the Ryder Cup, Lee Westwood will have made many youngsters want to pick up a golf club. He has also been without question a great ambassador for the game and for junior golf and is highly deserving of our Spirit of Golf Award. Everyone in the Golf Foundation team is delighted to honour Lee in this way."
The Golf Foundation is present for the whole of Open week (12-19 July), working alongside the PGA and clubgolf as guests of The R&A. An estimated 4,000 youngsters are expected to visit the R&A Junior Golf Centre during the event.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org