Davis Love III, who has combined a stellar PGA TOUR career with a personal investment in improving the lives of children and families, has been named the 2008 winner of the Payne Stewart Award. Love will be honored during a private reception tonight as part of the festivities surrounding this week's TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.
The award honors Payne Stewart, the World Golf Hall of Fame member and 11-time PGA TOUR winner who died the week of THE TOUR Championship in 1999. It was created by the PGA TOUR Policy Board to perpetuate his memory by annually honoring a player who reflects 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.
Love grew up around the game and honed his skills as an All-American golfer at the University of North Carolina. His amateur career culminated with a selection to the 1985 Walker Cup team. Love's PGA TOUR career began in 1986 when he posted two top-10 finishes and finished 77th on the money list, and he has never looked back, racking up 19 career victories, including multiple wins at events like THE PLAYERS Championship, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Verizon Heritage. He won his first major at the 1997 PGA Championship and ranks fifth all-time with nearly $36 million in career earnings. After winning the 1999 EDS Byron Nelson Championship, he moved to a career-high second in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Love has represented the United States on six Ryder Cup Teams and six Presidents Cup Teams, scoring 11-1/2 points and 18 points for the United States in each competition, respectively.
Beyond his accomplishments on the course, however, remains Love's commitment to use his profile to benefit others. To that end, The Davis Love Foundation was established in 2005 to support both national- and community- based programs that focus on children and their families. The ambitious mission of The Davis Love Foundation is to help build a better future for vulnerable children and their families who are at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes. The foundation provides grants and donations to community based programs that focus on children and families in need.
"Davis epitomizes everything that the Payne Stewart Award stands for in his integrity, sportsmanship and spirit of giving back," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "He truly understands what it means to be a role model and has been a great ambassador for the PGA TOUR and the sport of golf, both on and off the field of competition. He is a worthy addition to the list of distinguished gentlemen who have been honored with the Payne Stewart Award."
Love becomes the 11th recipient of the award. The inaugural Payne Stewart Award was presented in 2000 to Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Ben Crenshaw was the 2001 recipient, followed by Nick Price (2002), Tom Watson (2003), Jay Haas (2004), Brad Faxon (2005) Gary Player (2006) and Hal Sutton (2007).
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 First Tee facility in Missouri, located at Camp Kanakuk, which is affiliated with the "Kids Across America" program; and $100,000 to a charity designated by Love.
"Southern Company is proud of our partnership with the PGA TOUR and honored to share in the presentation of the Payne Stewart Award," said David Altman, VP corporate communications, Southern Company. "It has truly become a meaningful way to uphold the memory of Payne Stewart and pay tribute to his commitment of charitable support. As the award parallels many Southern Company principles such as integrity, leadership and social responsibility, we are privileged to help others through the worthwhile charities the Payne Stewart Award supports, including The First Tee and The Stewart Family Foundation."
The nominating panel for the Payne Stewart Award included the current Chairman of the TOUR's Player Advisory (Zach Johnson), the Chairman of the TOUR's Policy Board (Victor Ganzi), the current President of the USGA (James F. Vernon), the current President of the PGA of America (Brian Whitcomb), the Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club (William Payne), the current President of the Golf Writers Association of America (Doug Ferguson, AP), the current President of the PGA TOUR Tournament Advisory Committee (Ollie J. Nutt) and past recipients of the Payne Stewart Award.