Gene Sauers receives PGA Tour Courage Award

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Gene Sauers receives PGA Tour Courage Award

Professional

Gene Sauers receives PGA Tour Courage Award

Gene Sauers has been recognized for his ability to overcome, as the PGA Tour announced Wednesday that he has been named the recipient of the PGA Tour Courage Award.

It’s a well-deserved honor. The Courage Award is “presented to a player who, through courage and perseverance, has overcome extraordinary adversity, such as personal tragedy or debilitating injury or illness, to make a significant and meaningful contribution to the game of golf.”

Sauers, 55, gathers the Courage Award honor several years after enduring a battle with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Well, battle would be an understatement. Doctors originally thought Sauers had Rheumatoid Arthritis, but it proved to be Stevens-Johnson, and the fight was painful. There was the extreme joint pain for Sauers and then a graduation to the sensation of feeling like he was being burned alive.

Doctors gave Sauers only a 25 percent chance to live. Somehow, Sauers persevered through the this near-certain death experience. Sauers was released from the hospital in June 2011 and competed on the PGA Tour Champions just a year later.

The three-time PGA Tour winner captured the 2016 U.S. Senior Open, a monumental title considering where he was five years previous, and played in the U.S. Open the following year.

The award comes after the culmination of this long journey.

“It’s truly an honor to receive the Courage Award, and it is my hope it sheds positive light on the tremendous work being done by doctors and researchers around the country to find a cure for this debilitating disease,” Sauers said in a release.

With the award comes a $25,000 charitable contribution to be distributed to a charity of Sauers’ choice. This year, the money will go to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, a non-profit international center for treatment and research and a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. Scientists at the non-profit conduct research on testing, treatment and prevention of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan presented Sauers with the award Tuesday at Phoenix Country Club, site of this week’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

Sauers is the third recipient of this award. Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient, was the first in 2013 and Jarrod Lyle followed in 2015. The Australian has now battled leukemia three times, but he announced in August that his cancer had gone into remission on this third bout.

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