The Southern Company is privileged to support the Payne Stewart Award, presented annually to the PGA TOUR player who best exemplifies the values of character, charity and sportsmanship. The past winners have all distinguished themselves through their respect for the game, the TOUR's tradition of charity and their ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
The award honors the memory of Stewart, an 11-time PGA TOUR winner and World Golf Hall of Fame member who died tragically during the week of the TOUR Championship in 1999. Southern Company, the "Official Energy Company of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour," was the TOUR Championship sponsor the year of Stewart's passing. The PGA TOUR created the Payne Stewart Award in his honor, and Southern Company has supported the annual presentation since its inception.
In presenting the Payne Stewart Award, Southern Company contributes each year to three charities, including Payne and his wife Tracy Stewart's primary charity, The Stewart Family Foundation, as well as The First Tee of the Ozarks -- located in Stewart's native Missouri -- and a charity designated by the recipient.
"Southern Company recognizes the importance of supporting our local communities through charitable giving," CEO Tom Fanning said. "In 2012 alone, our company donated more than $25 million to charitable causes and our employees contributed more than 200,000 hours of service to our communities. Our support of the Payne Stewart Award is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that the communities we serve are better off because we are there."
Chris Womack, Southern Company's executive vice president for external affairs, was asked about the company's involvement with the Payne Stewart Award.
"There are so many things about the Payne Stewart Award as well as about the TOUR that match with our business objectives like integrity, character and sportsmanship," Womack said. "We think those kind of attributes are so critical and essential for a business to be successful, and so we went out and did some branding work and some research on ways to present ourselves to the market. We just thought the TOUR was a wonderful partnership to establish.
"And then due to, unfortunately, Payne's untimely death we thought it was important to continue his legacy because of the many things he did for the game. Not only for being a great golfer, but a real good person, so we wanted to continue that legacy. That's why we got involved with the Payne Stewart Award."