Retired Augusta National chairman Billy Payne will receive the William D. Richardson Award by the Golf Writers Association of America for outstanding contributions to golf.


Payne was announced as the award recipient on Wednesday along with the LPGA’s Stacy Lewis as the winner of the Ben Hogan Award and Ernie Els as the winner of the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award.

Payne is the second Augusta National chairman, after Clifford Roberts, to be honored with the GWAA’s top service award. Augusta National founder Bob Jones also received the honor.

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 launched the Asia-Pacific Amateur and the Latin American Amateur, with the winners earning invitations to the Masters, and he also was instrumental in the creation and success of the annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship which holds its national finals on the Sunday before the Masters at Augusta National.

Payne also led the club and the tournament into new digital ventures and expanded the club’s facilities.

Lewis received the Hogan Award for golfers who overcome physical issues to either remain or return to competition. The two-time LPGA player of the year was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 11 years old and she wore a back brace for seven years.

She wore the brace for 18 hours a day, taking it off only when she played golf. Lewis eventually had back surgery to have a rod and five screws implanted. She gradually returned to competitive golf and went on to win the 2007 NCAA individual championship and 12 LPGA tournaments, including two major championships.

Els received the ASAP/Murray Award for his continued cooperation and accessibility to the media.

Horschel pledges his support

Like any PGA Tour player on the Tour’s biggest stage, Billy Horschel plans on making as many birdies and eagles as he can during The Players Championship May 10-13.

They’ll do more than reward good shots: they’ll help feed hungry people in an eight-county area of North Florida.

Horschel, a four-time Tour winner and the 2014 FedEx Cup champion, announced on Tuesday during an appearance at Feeding Northeast Florida, that he will donate $1,000 for every birdie and $5,000 for every eagle he makes at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass during The Players, and is asking fans to join him in donating to the organization.

The Players Championship got the campaign off to a big start: $500,000 was donated to Feeding Northeast Florida, which will equal 3 million meals to those in need. FNEF aims to provide 50 million meals per year to ensure everyone who faces hunger has access to food.

For every $1 donated, FNEF can provide six meals. The charity works with restaurants and grocery stores to recover food that might otherwise be thrown out or wasted and distributes the food to local hunger-relief organizations.

“As a player on the PGA Tour, we get to see first-hand how our tournaments benefit the communities where we play,” said Horschel, a former University of Florida player who has made his home in Ponte Vedra Beach. “As a resident here in the Jacksonville area, I’m proud of the work The Players does for organizations like Feeding Northeast Florida.”

Additional information on Feeding Northeast Florida can be found at the organization’s web site.

Youth served on Tour PAC

The 16-member PGA Tour Policy Board, announced this week by the Tour, includes several of the biggest young stars: player of the year Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Daniel Berger and Chesson Hadley.

Thomas, Spieth and Berger are all 24 years old. Seven of the PAC members are 30 or younger and the average age is 33.6.

Area players on the PAC are Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson of St. Simons Island, Ga., and Sam Saunders of Atlantic Beach. The PAC advises and consults with the PGA Tour Policy Board and commissioner Jay Monahan.

The current player-directors on the PGA Tour Policy Board have designated Spieth and Billy Hurley to run PAC chairman. The winner will then move to the Policy Board for a three-year term in 2019 to replace Davis Love III of St. Simons Island.

The rest of the PAC is Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, James Hahn, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Chris Stroud, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

Neal honored by PR News

PGA Tour senior vice-president of communications Laura Neal will be honored by PR News as a member of its Class of 2017 “Top Women in PR,” during a luncheon in New York next week.

Neal, a Flagler College graduate, began working for the PGA Tour in 2007 after interning and later working for the LPGA where she became a vice-president of public relations. Her first position with the PGA Tour was with Championship Management, the division that oversees Tour-owned or managed events such as The Players and the World Golf Championships.


PGA Tour

Event: Careerbuilder Challenge, Thursday-Sunday, PGA West (Stadium Course, Nicklaus Tournament Course) and LaQuinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif.

At stake: $5.9 million purse ($1,062,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to winner)

Defending champ: Hudson Swafford

TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m.)

Area players entered: Blayne Barber, Jonathan Byrd, Bud Cauley, Roberto Diaz, Harris English, Matt Every, Brian Harman, Zach Johnson, Russell Knox, David Lingmerth, Sam Saunders, Hudson Swafford, Steve Wheatcroft.

Notable: Swafford, a St. Simons Island, Ga., resident, birdied three of his last four holes to beat Adam Hadwin by one shot – a day after Hadwin had a 59. … Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson are making their first starts of the year, and are joined by John Daly, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner, Jason Dufner and two-time 2017-18 winner Patton Kizzire. … Tiger Woods makes his 2018 debut next week at the Farmers Insurance Open at La Jolla, Calif.

PGA Tour Champions

Event: Mitsubishi Electric Championship, Friday-Sunday, Hualalai Golf Club, Ka’Upulehu-Kona, Hawaii

At stake: $1.8 million purse ($300,000 to winner)

Defending champ: Bernhard Langer

TV: Golf Channel (Friday-Sunday, 7-10 p.m.)

Area players entered: Sandy Lyle, Vijay Singh

Notable: Langer won for the third time in the history of the event and went on to win seven times last season. … Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie are also playing. … Two players in the field, Singh and Jerry Kelly, played in the PGA Tour’s Sony Open last week in Honolulu. Tour

Event: Bahamas Great Abaco Classic, Sunday-Jan. 24, The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, Great Abaco

At stake: $600,000 purse ($108,000 to winner)

Defending champ: Andrew Landy

TV: Golf Channel (Sunday, 12-2 p.m.; Jan. 22-24, 2-5 p.m.).

Notable: Landry shot 66-67 on the weekend and defeated Jimmy Gunn by three shots.