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Tiger Woods earns Ben Hogan Award for overcoming physical issues and returning a winner on tour

January 22, 2019

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There’s little Tiger Woods hasn’t achieved in his historic career. On Tuesday, however, he accomplished a first.

Woods’ return from spinal-fusion surgery in 2017, which culminated with his first PGA Tour victory in five years at the Tour Championship last September, earned him the Golf Writers’ Association of America’s Ben Hogan Award, given to a player who has overcome a physical handicap or serious injury to remain active in golf.

“I’m grateful to receive an award named after Mr. Hogan and to join a group of truly inspirational individuals,” Woods said in a statement. “I feel very fortunate that I was able to return to a normal life with my kids, and I understand what a privilege it is to play competitive golf again. I would like to thank the fans for their unwavering support and the GWAA for this honor.”

It was less than two years ago that Woods looked like he might not ever play again on the PGA Tour. He underwent fusion surgery in April 2017 after three prior surgeries on his back that limited him to just one start in 2016 and three the following year.

In just his fourth start in 2018, however, he finished runner-up at the Valspar Championship, and the next week tied for fifth at Bay Hill.

He continued to impress as the summer came along. In July at Carnoustie, Woods led the Open Championship with nine holes to play before a double bogey at the 11th and a bogey at the 12th led to an eventual tie for sixth.

Two starts later, he tied for second at the PGA Championship at Bellerive and, finally, he broke through in September with his first victory since 2013 with a two-stroke win at the season-finale at East Lake. It was his 80th PGA Tour title, bringing him to within two of Sam Snead’s all-time record.

Former Hogan award winners include Stacy Lewis, Judy Rankin, Gene Sauers, J.B. Holmes, Tom Watson, Sophie Gustafson, Barbara Douglas, Jarrod Lyle, Ken Green, Erik Compton, Denis Watson, Hubert Green, Bruce Edwards, Scott Verplank, Jose Maria Olazabal, Casey Martin, Paul Azinger, David Meador, Lee Trevino and Ken Venturi.

Woods, a 10-time winner of the GWAA’s Player of the Year Award and past winner of the GWAA’s Charlie Bartlett Award for contributing to the betterment of society through charitable giving, will be honored April 10 at the GWAA’s 47th annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga.