In recognition of his superior level of character and sportsmanship, his professionalism and the distinguished manner in which he embraces the values of golf,PGA Tour Champions player Bernhard Langer has been named the recipient of the PGA TOUR’s 2018 Payne Stewart Award presented by Southern Company. Langer will be honored Tuesday September 18 at the Payne Stewart Award Ceremony in conjunction with the TOUR Championship, and televised live on the Golf Channel.
The Payne Stewart Award is presented annually by the PGA TOUR to a professional golfer who best exemplifies Payne’s steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship. Payne died tragically the week of the TOUR Championship in 1999. Southern Company, the “Official Energy Company of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions,” was the TOUR Championship sponsor the year he passed. A year later the TOUR created the Award in Stewart’s honor, and Southern Company has supported the annual presentation since its inception.
“The Payne Stewart Award celebrates those attributes that make our communities great,” said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Tom Fanning. “Southern Company is proud to recognize Bernhard Langer, a fierce competitor, teacher and advocate for children who personifies these worthy traits. We extend our sincere congratulations to Bernhard, one of the most successful and revered golfers in the world.”
“We all are proud of Payne Stewart and the husband and father he was, the player he was and the character he had.” said Langer. “I was very close with Payne for a number of years. Toward the end of his career, he became a believer in Jesus Christ and a Christian, and that was very touching to me because the same thing happened to me a few years earlier, so we had even more in common at that point. To now be receiving the Payne Stewart Award, I feel extremely honored. I know there are many other guys that deserve it as much if not more than me, and I’m thrilled to receive it.”
Langer turned professional in 1972 at the age of 15 and joined the European Tour in 1976. He became a PGA TOUR member for four seasons beginning in 1985 and rejoined the Tour in 2001. Originally from Munich, Germany, Langer and his wife Vikki currently reside in Boca Raton, Florida and have four children: Jackie, Stefan, Christina and Jason.
“Bernhard Langer epitomizes the ideals around which the Payne Stewart Award is built-character, charity and sportsmanship,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “Fueled by his strong faith and steadfast humility, Bernhard has become one of the great ambassadors for this game and continues to set an admirable example every time he tees it up on the PGA TOUR Champions. On the course there has been no one more consistent or resilient over a longer period of time than Bernhard.
He has won all over the world and continues to lift trophies on a regular basis on the PGA TOUR Champions. I am not so sure Father Time will ever catch him.”
Bernhard was the inaugural No.1 ranked player in the world when the Official World Golf Ranking was introduced in 1986. He was a 10 time European Ryder Cup team member and captained the victorious 2004 team. He is a two-time Masters Champion(1985,1993) and is the first German player to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. He was honored with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Silver Leaf, which is their highest sport award. He was inducted into the Germany Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
In addition to a sculpture of Payne by Bob Pack presented to the recipient, the Payne Stewart Award is accompanied by an annual $500,000 grant made possible by the Southern Company. The grant supports several initiatives in Stewart’s name and is distributed as follows: $100,000 to Payne and wife Tracey Stewart’s primary charity, The Stewart family Foundation; $100,000 in Stewart’s honor to the First Tee of the Ozarks located in Missouri at Kids Across America affiliated with Kanakuk Kamps; and $300,000 to a charity designated by the winner. Langer has chosen to designate the Bernhard Langer Foundation, which will distribute funds to several charitable organizations that focus on providing aid to children, orphans and widows in South Florida. His charitable impact also stretches beyond the U.S. border to his native Germany, where donations help needy families and children.
I only had one opportunity to speak with Bernhard one on one at a Father & Son Challenge dinner a few years ago. His stoic demeanor on the golf course is completely different to his affable and friendly conversationalist personality off the course. We had a delightful interview talking about much more than golf. I was quite impressed with truly how nice a person he is. Congratulations Bernhard.