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Jim Furyk, "Mr. 58," named 2016 Payne Stewart Award recipient
Just days after shooting 58 to break the record for the lowest single-round score in PGA TOUR history, the PGA TOUR and Southern Company announced Jim Furyk — 17-time PGA TOUR winner and 2010 FedExCup champion — as the recipient of the 2016 Payne Stewart Award. Furyk will be honored on Tuesday, September 20, at the Payne Stewart Award Ceremony in conjunction with the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in Atlanta. The ceremony will be televised live on Golf Channel as part of a "Golf Central" special from 7-8 p.m. ET.
The Payne Stewart Award is presented annually to a professional golfer who best exemplifies Stewart's steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship. Stewart, an 11-time winner on the PGA TOUR and World Golf Hall of Fame member, died tragically the week of the TOUR Championship in 1999. Southern Company, the "Official Energy Company of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions," was the TOUR Championship sponsor the year of Stewart's passing. A year later, the PGA TOUR created the Payne Stewart Award in his honor, and Southern Company has supported the annual presentation since its inception.
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 impact in the lives of others.
Furyk was chosen for the honor by a selection committee comprised mainly of past Payne Stewart Award winners and heads of leading golf organizations. Ballots were returned in May and the announcement was scheduled for August 9, coincidentally, just two days after Furyk's historic feat at the Travelers Championship.
"I am incredibly honored to receive the Payne Stewart Award," said Furyk. "I was fortunate enough to know Payne as a colleague and friend, and I always admired the character and spirit he brought to the game of golf. The Payne Stewart Award is an important part of the TOUR's efforts to honor Payne's legacy. Knowing my name will be forever linked to him through this honor is extremely humbling, and I am very grateful."
Among the highlights of Furyk's impressive career - in addition to his 58, not to mention the 59 he shot at the 2013 BMW Championship - is his 2003 U.S. Open triumph at Olympia Fields. He has also been a consistent competitor in annual team matches, representing the United States on nine consecutive Ryder Cup teams and seven Presidents Cup teams. But Furyk is also respected for how he handles himself outside the ropes. In 2015, Furyk received the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award from the Golf Writers Association of America, which honors a player who is cooperative and accommodating to the media.
"Jim Furyk is a true gentleman, a player respected by everyone who has had the pleasure of interacting with him, from fans and sponsors to the media and his peers on the PGA TOUR," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "While his performance on the golf course is accomplished and well documented - most recently with his incredible round at the Travelers Championship - it's the way he conducts himself outside the ropes that makes him more than worthy of this recognition. Jim, along with his wife Tabitha, has exhibited a true commitment to helping others in the community through his Foundation, and that same compassionate spirit has made him an accessible role model to upcoming TOUR players for many years. On behalf of the PGA TOUR, it's my pleasure to congratulate Jim on this highest of honors."
"Jim Furyk has been an elite PGA TOUR competitor for two decades," said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. "But his achievements on the course pale in comparison to the indelible mark he has made on the lives of countless children and families in need. Jim's commitment to helping those less fortunate is a true testament to Payne Stewart's legacy of serving others."
A Distinguished Career
Furyk is well-known for his less-than-orthodox swing that has produced consistent performance on the PGA TOUR for 20 years and counting. He was taught the unique move as a young boy growing up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from his father, Mike, who continues to be the only swing instructor Furyk has ever had.
Furyk spent four years on the University of Arizona men's golf team, where he was a two-time All-American and led the Wildcats to a national title in 1992. In 1997, Furyk was inducted into the University of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
After spending one season on the Web.com Tour in 1993, where Furyk grabbed his first professional victory, he began his career on the PGA TOUR and won his first of 17 titles at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational. Furyk then recorded eight more victories over the course of the next eight years, not the least of which was his first major championship at the 2003 U.S. Open.
Furyk had one of his most successful seasons on TOUR in 2010, winning three times, including the TOUR Championship en route to becoming the fourth-ever FedExCup champion. He was named PGA TOUR Player of the Year shortly thereafter.
At 46 years old, Furyk is still proving he can compete on golf's biggest stages. With his 58 in the final round of the Travelers Championship, Furyk is now the only player in history to break 60 twice on the PGA TOUR; he is one of six players to record a 59 on the PGA TOUR, and also the most recent, recording 59 in the second round of the 2013 BMW Championship. His final-round 58 at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands included 10 birdies and a hole-out eagle on the par-4 third hole from 135 yards. From holes 6 through 12, he made seven consecutive birdies, a career-best for Furyk.
He captured the 2015 RBC Heritage for his 17th PGA TOUR title and first in five years before a wrist injury in the fall sidelined him for nearly eight months. Furyk returned to competition in May 2016 and finished tied for second at the U.S. Open in his fifth start back on TOUR.
In addition to a sculpture by Bob Pack presented to the recipient, the Payne Stewart Award is accompanied by an annual Payne Stewart Award Grant made possible by Southern Company. The $500,000 grant supports several initiatives in Stewart's name and is 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 of the Ozarks located in Missouri at Kids Across America, which is affiliated with Kanakuk Kamps; and $300,000 to a charity designated by the winner. Furyk has chosen the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation, which will disperse his award to:
- Blessings in a Backpack - Giving children in need a backpack filled with food each weekend
- Community PedsCare - A unique program serving as a model for pediatric hospice and palliative care that offers medical care, emotional support, counseling and pain management to children and families
- MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation - Supporting educational, tutoring and after-school mentoring programs in partnership with professional tennis player Mal Washington
- Monique Burr Foundation - Ensuring a safe environment for children across Florida by combating child abuse and bullying
- Operation Shower - Providing childcare essentials for military families expecting children
- Wolfson Children's Hospital - Giving families of children undergoing oncology treatments a place to stay
In 2010, Furyk and his wife, Tabitha, established the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation shortly after Furyk won the FedExCup. Furyk used the platform of winning the PGA TOUR's season-long title to help children and families in need by supporting community charities in his home of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation is dedicated to helping support those organizations that lend a hand to those who can't fulfill the most basic needs. By providing specific funding to these organizations, the foundation helps to give food to underprivileged children, care for children with life-limiting or threatening conditions, and simply providing a safe place for them to go after school.
While the funding for the majority of the foundation's programs stays in the local community, the awareness and impact of the charity work is being spread nationwide and globally through Jim and Tabitha's work on the PGA TOUR.
Since 2011, the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation has hosted the Furyk & Friends Concert & Celebrity Golf Classic to raise money in order to fund the many community projects including Wolfson's Children Hospital, Blessings in a Backpack and Community PedsCare. In the six-year history of the event, more than $6 million has been raised to help families and children in need.
The foundation also works to provide meals for underprivileged children over the holidays through their Hope for the Holidays initiative, which, through the Blessings in a Backpack program, recruits local children in the community to have a hands-on experience of doing good for others by stuffing backpacks with a holiday meal for children who otherwise might not have a good meal over the holiday break.
Furyk is the 19th recipient of the award, joining a distinguished group of respected golfers including Ernie Els, who was recognized in 2015, and the inaugural recipients Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (2000). Other recipients include Sir Nick Faldo (2014), Peter Jacobsen (2013), Steve Stricker (2012), David Toms (2011), Tom Lehman (2010), Kenny Perry (2009), Davis Love III (2008), Hal Sutton (2007), Gary Player (2006), Brad Faxon (2005), Jay Haas (2004), Tom Watson (2003), Nick Price (2002) and Ben Crenshaw (2001).