Hale Irwin has been named the 2019 winner of the PGA Tour’s Payne Stewart Award for a career in charitable giving that might rival his incredible playing record.
A three-time U.S. Open champion who went on to become the winningest player in PGA Tour Champions history, Irwin will be honored Aug. 20 in Atlanta in conjunction with the Tour Championship. The Payne Stewart Award is presented annually by the tour to a professional golfer who best exemplifies Stewart’s steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship. The award, presented by Southern Company, was introduced in 2000, a year after Stewart died in a plane crash during the week of the 1999 Tour Championship.
“When Tracey [Stewart] told me that I would be the 2019 recipient of the Payne Stewart Award, I was honestly surprised yet overcome with emotion and pride when thinking of Payne, the honor of this Award which bears his name and the many deserving players who have earned it before me,” Irwin said in a statement. “Payne was a friend and a tremendous champion of our game, but more than that, he was committed to leaving a remarkable impact through golf which is still felt today.”
A two-sport standout at the University of Colorado, where he was a two-time all-Big Eight selection as a defensive back and the NCAA individual golf champion, Irwin won 20 times on the PGA Tour, including his three U.S. Opens in 1974, 1977, and 1990. His win in a playoff at Medinah in 1990 made him, at 45, the oldest winner in the history of the Open, and it only portended what was to come as a senior, when Irwin won a record 45 times.
Off the course, Irwin has been deeply involved in raising money money in his native Missouri for St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He established a charity golf tournament to raise money for the hospital, and in 1995 the hospital dedicated the Hale Irwin Center for Pediatric Hematology/Oncology in his honor.
Irwin is the 22nd recipient of the Payne Stewart Award. Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer were the joint inaugural recipients in 2000.