Jim Furyk’s already good week got even better today as he was named the 2016 winner of the Payne Stewart Award, given to golfers who exemplify the traits of character, charity and sportsmanship.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Furyk was picked for the award before shooting his historic 58 on Sunday at the Travelers.
“I want to point out that this decision on his recognition of the Payne Stewart Award was made prior to him shooting 58,” Finchem said. “But I also want to recognize what he has meant to the PGA Tour, its image, what people think about the sport. In our home area of Ponte Vedra Jim and his wife Tabitha have been absolute leaders and have had stunning success in giving back to the people and communities around the Ponte Vedra and Jacksonville area.”
In receiving the award, Furyk remembered Stewart, who died at the age of 42 in a plane accident in 1999. When asked for his favorite story about Stewart, he told this anecdote about running into him and his wife in Bermuda: “We had a heck of a time in Bermuda. That was a place where I was probably 25 or 26 years old, showed up in Bermuda, very proper island, dressed up, we were again, 25, 26, wanted to put a pair of shorts and T shirts and flip flops. We felt like we were going to the island.
“And we saw this little Mexican restaurant that we were going to go have chips and salsa and a couple beers and hang out,” Furyk continued. “Didn’t realize Payne and Tracey were there and they invited us to join them. And hours upon hours upon hours later we got back home and Payne and I were scheduled to do the junior clinic in the morning. So it was a long, rough junior clinic. But the way that they took us in, how gracious they were, how nice they were, down to earth. We had a blast. And as a young player, to look up to people like that and have people treat you so well is a great memory.”
Furyk said he’s particularly grateful to Stewart for his kindness to him as a younger player.
“There is a number of things I learned from Payne,” Furyk said. “I guess the one was as gracious as he was when he treated Tabitha and I. I think how much of a difference you can probably make in a young player’s career. I have probably about a handful of guys that have approached me as a veteran player and will start asking questions and looking for advice. And I think that really taking the time and listening to what they have to say and doing your best to try to help those guys makes a big difference.”