Golf writers honor Billy Payne, Stacy Lewis and Ernie Els

Golf writers honor Billy Payne, Stacy Lewis and Ernie Els

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Golf writers honor Billy Payne, Stacy Lewis and Ernie Els

Former Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne has won the Golf Writers Association of America William D. Richardson Award for outstanding contributions to golf.

Payne led Augusta for 11 years before retiring last year. He will be joined by LPGA star Stacy Lewis and Hall of Famer Ernie Els as award winners at the 46th  ISPS HANDA GWAA Annual Awards Dinner presented by The PGA of America and USGA in Augusta, Ga., on April 4.

Lewis will receive the organization’s Ben Hogan Award given to an individual who has overcome a physical challenge or serious illness. Els will receive the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award for his long-time cooperation with the media.

During his time as chairman of Augusta National, Payne was a leader in expanding the game around the world while continuing to enhance Augusta National and the Masters tournament. Payne was also instrumental in the creation and success of the annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

“So many of this award’s recipients were an inspiration to me, especially Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts,” Payne said. “Like these two great men, I believe golf teaches so many important and rewarding life lessons. Their commitment to the game motivated me every day I was privileged to serve as Chairman of Augusta National.”

Lewis overcame long odds to become the No. 1-ranked women’s player in the world and a two-time LPGA player of the year. 

When Lewis was 11, she was diagnosed with scoliosis and she wore a back brace for seven years. Lewis lives in the Houston area and when she won the 2017 Cambia Portland Classic a week after Hurricane Harvey hit, she donated her winner’s check to hurricane relief efforts.

“It’s a real honor to win an award with Ben Hogan’s name on it. I always felt like what I went through was for a reason, that there was always a purpose. While I wouldn’t wish what I went through on any other kid, I wouldn’t change what happened to me,” Lewis said.

Els was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 for a sparkling worldwide career. A four-time major champion, Els has won 19 PGA Tour events and 71 tournaments worldwide.

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