ATLANTA -- South African Gary Player was named the recipient of the 2006 Payne Stewart Award Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, site of this week's TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.
The award is named for Stewart, an 11-time winner on the PGA TOUR, including three major championships. Stewart died the week of THE TOUR Championship in 1999.
"Gary Player represents everything this award stands for," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "The PGA TOUR's core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect for the game, growing the game, making a positive contribution to charity and helping each other achieve our highest potential, are all values that could certainly be used to describe Gary Player.
"As one of the most traveled athletes in all of sports, Gary's love of the game and thirst for life spread to everyone around him."
"Southern Company congratulates Gary Player on winning this year's Payne Stewart Award," said David Ratcliffe, Southern Company's chairman, president and CEO. "It's an honor for us to partner with the PGA TOUR to recognize such outstanding individuals who are true role models on the golf course and embody the spirit of giving back to their local communities."
Player has won more than 163 titles worldwide. A member of the inaugural class into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, Player won nine major championships and was the third player in the game's history to win the career Grand Slam.
While his accomplishments on the course are more than impressive, his accomplishments off the course are equally notable. Perhaps one of the most significant is the Gary Player Foundation which helped to build the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa and has educational facilities for more than 500 students from kindergarten through the seventh grade and also supports other educational projects throughout the world.
The Payne Stewart Award was created by the PGA TOUR Policy Board to perpetuate Stewart's memory. It is presented annually to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and his professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.
The inaugural Payne Stewart Award was presented in 2000 to Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Ben Crenshaw was the 2001 recipient, Nick Price the honoree in 2002, Tom Watson was honored in 2003, Jay Haas was presented with the award in 2004 and Brad Faxon was the recipient last year.
In addition to a sculpture presented to the recipient, the Payne Stewart Award is accompanied by an annual Payne Stewart Award Grant presented by Southern Company. The $300,000 grant will support several initiatives in Stewart's name and be distributed as follows: $100,000 to Payne and Tracey Stewart's primary charity, The Stewart Family Foundation; $100,000 in Stewart's honor to The Payne Stewart Memorial/The First Tee of The Ozarks facility in Missouri, located at Kids Across America Kamps; and $100,000 to a charity designated by Player.
The nominating panel for the Payne Stewart Award included the current chairman of the TOUR's Player Advisory Council (Stewart Cink), the chairman of the TOUR's Policy Board (Dick Ferris), the current president of the USGA (Walter W. Driver, Jr.), the current president of the PGA of America (Roger Warren), the chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club (William P. "Billy" Payne), the current president of the Golf Writers Association of America (Art Spander, Oakland Tribune), the current president of the PGA TOUR Tournaments Association (Kym Hougham), and past recipients of the Payne Stewart Award (Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Nick Price, Tom Watson, Jay Haas and Brad Faxon).
The award presentation is made annually during THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.