Big names turn out for GWAA awards banquet

By |  April 12, 2019 0 Comments
Brooks Koepka receives the GWAA Player of the Year award at the association's awards banquet. Photo: Clara Richter

Brooks Koepka receives the GWAA Player of the Year award at the association’s awards banquet. Photo: Clara Richter

This year’s Golf Writer’s Association of America (GWAA) awards banquet was a rather star-studded event. Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods, Bernhard Langer, Ariya Jutanugarn and Johnny Miller were all on hand to receive awards from the association.

Brooks Koepka was awarded the GWAA Player of the Year award.

“It’s crazy to think a year ago, I was sitting on my couch never knowing if I would play again. And now, I won the Player of the Year award,” the two-time U.S. Open winner said during his speech.

Woods received the Ben Hogan Award for overcoming a physical handicap. Hogan’s career was interrupted when he sustained life-threatening injuries in a car accident. Despite being told he may never walk again, he was able to return to the PGA Tour a year after his accident.

Bernhard Langer gives his acceptance speech at the GWAA awards dinner. Photo: Clara Richter

Bernhard Langer gives his acceptance speech at the GWAA awards dinner. Photo: Clara Richter

After several spinal injuries, Woods said he was unsure whether he would ever be able to play the game again. “Golf was not in my near future, or even the distant future,” he added. “I knew I was going to be part of the game, but playing the game again … I couldn’t even do that with my son, Charlie. I couldn’t even putt in the backyard.”

After a spinal surgery, Woods has been able to return to the game of golf. He thanked the golf writers present for their support over the past couple years.

“To see all of you, all the writers who have followed me and written some really nice articles and really supported me and given me some just great work over the last year and a half … I can’t thank you enough,” Woods said. “It meant a lot to me to be able to receive this award, after (what) its namesake, Mr. Hogan, went through and what he did and what he was able to accomplish is really remarkable.”

Courtesy: Ariya Jutanugarn family

The Golfdom staff ran into Ariya Jutanugarn after the event. From left, Editor-in-Chief, Seth Jones; Managing Editor, Clara Richter; Jutanugarn; and Publisher, Bill Roddy. Courtesy: Ariya Jutanugarn family

Langer — whom Golfdom Editor-in-Chief Seth Jones ran into before the event and was able to take a photo with on the GWAA “red carpet” — was named Senior Player of the Year by the association.

Jutanugarn was awarded the GWAA Female Player of the Year. In her introduction of the 23-year-old 2018 U.S. Women’s Open winner, Beth Ann Nichols described her as a player whose “heart is as big as her game.” And she certainly has a big game. She was the youngest player to have ever qualified for an LPGA Tour event when she qualified for the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand at age 11. Since turning professional in 2013, Jutanugarn has had 11 professional wins and has twice been named the LPGA Player of the Year (2016, 2018).

“I am so honored to receive this award from all you all, and I am so grateful for all the support you have given me and for women’s golf,” Jutanugarn said. “It means so much, so thank you so much. Just to be in the same room with Bernhard Langer, Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods is just unbelievable and so amazing to me.

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