12-time PGA TOUR winner honored for integrity, professionalism, stellar career
(ATLANTA, September 18, 2012) – Steve Stricker, a player respected for his attitude, determination and approach as a champion both on and off the golf course, has been named the 2012 winner of the Payne Stewart Award. Stricker will be honored during a private reception this evening as part of the festivities at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, the culminating event of the FedExCup Playoffs. Stricker is in the tournament field this week, having survived the three previous Playoff events thus far that allow only the top 30 players on TOUR the chance at competing for the TOUR Championship trophy and, ultimately, the FedExCup title. He is ranked No. 13 in the FedExCup standings.
The Payne Stewart Award 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. 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.
“This award means a great deal to the players on the PGA TOUR, and I am truly grateful to be the recipient of the Payne Stewart Award,” said Stricker. “I take great pride in being recognized for the values that the Payne Stewart Award stands for. I was fortunate enough to spend time with and compete against Payne, and I watched how he handled himself on the course, with his fellow competitors, with the fans and volunteers. I hope that by leading by example, just as Payne did, that our younger players will follow in the traditions of sportsmanship, integrity and charitable efforts that he helped bring to our sport.”
Stricker, 45, of Madison, Wis., has won nine of his 12 PGA Tour titles since turning 40. After early success on the PGA TOUR from 1994-2002, which included three victories and 37 top-10 finishes, Stricker suffered through a drought during the 2003-05 seasons, never finishing inside the top 125 on the money list and falling as far as 331st in the Official World Golf Ranking.
After missing his chance to earn his PGA TOUR card for the 2006 season at qualifying school, Stricker rediscovered his game by hitting balls out of a trailer into the December snow on a practice range in Madison, Wis. Relying mostly on sponsors’ exemptions to gain entry into PGA TOUR events, Stricker returned to form during 2006 with seven top-10 finishes and was named the PGA TOUR’s Comeback Player of the Year. His improved play continued in 2007 with two runner-up finishes and a victory at The Barclays, the first-ever FedExCup Playoffs event, leading him to the No. 2 spot in the final FedExCup standings and an unprecedented, second consecutive Comeback Player of the Year Award.
His consistent play has continued over the past four years, with multiple wins in 2009, 2010 and 2011—the only player with multiple wins in each season over that timeframe. He also started the 2012 PGA TOUR season with a win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. During this stretch, he has been a mainstay in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, reaching as high as No. 2.
To date, Stricker has played for the United States in two Ryder Cup and four Presidents Cup competitions and will again be a part of the U.S. Ryder Cup Team next week, as one of Davis Love III’s four captain’s picks.
Stricker is dedicated to using the game of golf to give back to his community and those in need. Many of his charitable pursuits center around children and adults with disabilities, providing them with programs that help improve their lives. For example, Stricker works with the Mission of VSA arts of Wisconsin, bringing dance, drama, creative writing, music and visual arts programs to children and adults with mental and physical disabilities.
Stricker has been a dedicated husband to his wife Nicki, who can sometimes be found on the golf course alongside Steve as his caddie. The couple has two daughters, Bobbi and Isabella.
“For years, Steve Stricker has epitomized everything that the Payne Stewart Award represents,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “From his professionalism on the golf course to his compassion for others off of it, it is hard to think of a more fitting recipient.”
Stricker becomes the 15th 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), Hal Sutton (2007), Davis Love III (2008), Kenny Perry (2009), Tom Lehman (2010) and David Toms (2011).
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 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 $100,000 to a charity designated by the winner.
“Southern Company is proud to partner with the PGA TOUR in recognizing Steve Stricker for his relentless pursuit of excellence, both on and off the course.” said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. “Steve is a source of inspiration to those who follow the sport and a role model to anyone trying to make a real difference in their community. Southern Company shares Steve’s commitment to helping others, and we’re pleased to support his charitable efforts through the presentation of the Payne Stewart Award.”