In acknowledgement of his exceptional character, sportsmanship and unwavering commitment to charitable impact, Hale Irwin has been named the 2019 recipient of the Payne Stewart Award presented by Southern Company.
Born in Joplin, Missouri, but raised in Baxter Springs, Kansas, Irwin was first introduced to the game at 4 years old and spent countless hours with his father practicing on the sand greens at their local municipal course. He attended the University of Colorado where he was the 1967 NCAA individual champion in golf and two-time All-Big Eight selection as a defensive back in football. Irwin and his wife Sally currently reside in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and have two children: Becky and Steven.
“Hale Irwin is an incredibly deserving Payne Stewart Award recipient,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “Starting with his first PGA TOUR title in 1971 to his most recent PGA TOUR Champions victory in 2007, his accomplishments over the course of a career that spans more than 50 years is nothing short of spectacular.
“Even today, his competitive fire still inspires after 25 years on PGA TOUR Champions. And as someone who exemplifies Payne’s character and integrity, Hale continues to carry out Payne’s legacy through his commitment to family and his passion for helping others. The PGA TOUR is proud to have Hale join what is a distinguished and legendary list of past recipients.”
Irwin established and participated in a charity golf tournament in St. Louis for 25 years called the Hale Irwin St. Louis Children's Hospital Golf Benefit. The annual Pro-Am raised millions to benefit the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and in 1995 the hospital dedicated the Hale Irwin Center for Pediatric Hematology/Oncology in his honor. Founded in 1879, St. Louis Children's Hospital is one of the premier children's hospitals in the United States. It serves not just the children of St. Louis, but children across the world. The hospital provides a full range of pediatric services to the St. Louis metropolitan area and a primary service region covering six states.
In 2009, Irwin was the recipient of the Ambassador of Golf Award, which is given annually by the Northern Ohio Golf Charities to a person who has fostered the ideals of the game on an international level and whose concern for others extends beyond the golf course. In 2018, Irwin was named as the Honoree for the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.
Irwin won 20 times on the PGA TOUR from 1971-1994 and turned in quite the encore on PGA TOUR Champions by collecting the Tour’s most-ever victories with 45. Since turning professional in 1968, Irwin has over 90 worldwide victories and is one of five players to win tournaments on six continents, joining past Payne Stewart Award recipients Gary Player and Bernhard Langer, as well as David Graham and Justin Rose.
Irwin was a five-time Ryder Cup participant and led the U.S. Team in the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994 as the event’s only playing captain to date. A three-time U.S. Open champion (1974, 1979, 1990) and the oldest to win the U.S. Open at 45 years old, Irwin was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992.
When he officially joined PGA TOUR Champions after turning 50 in 1995, Irwin won 20 times over his first four seasons, including 9-win and 7-win seasons in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Now in his 25th season, Irwin’s 45 PGA TOUR Champions titles remain the most all time. He’s earned three Player of the Year Awards and two Charles Schwab Cups as the season-long champion (2002, 2004) following the competition’s inception in 2001.