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January 14, 2013

Fay among deserving GWAA award winners

Former USGA executive director David Fay, LPGA star Laura Davies and three-time National Blind Golf Championship winner David Meador have been honored with three of the top awards given by the Golf Writers Association of America, of which I’m a voting member.

Fay, who guided the U.S. Golf Association for 21 years and was the driving force behind bringing the U.S. Open to two of the nation’s top public courses, was honored with the William D. Richardson Award, given annually to recognize individuals who have consistently made an outstanding contribution to golf.

Meador, who lost his sight in a car accident at age 18, won the Ben Hogan Award for remaining active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.

Davies, one of the most outspoken, fun-loving and entertaining players in women’s golf, was honored with the ASAPSports/Jim Murray Award, which recognizes a golfer for cooperation, quotability and accommodation with the media. She actually was talked into playing for several minutes in a men's soccer game in Myrtle Beach while she was in town for an LPGA Tour event at Wachesaw East.

They will be honored, along with GWAA Players of the Year Rory McIlroy (Men), Stacy Lewis (Women) and Roger Chapman (Senior) at the annual GWAA Awards Dinner on April 10 in Augusta, Ga.

Fay spent 32 years with the USGA, the last 21 as its executive director. He is one of the foremost authorities on the Rules of Golf and is a frequent analyst on broadcasts, entertaining audiences with a unique combination of knowledge and his dry wit. A long-time advocate of making golf more accessible to a diverse public, Fay brought the U.S. Open to Bethpage Black for the first time in 2002, then again in 2009 and to Torrey Pines in 2008.

Fay started with the USGA in 1978, became the organization’s sixth executive director in 1989 and held that job until he retired in 2010. He beat out female black pioneer Renee Powell and East Lake re-developer Tom Cousins for the award.

Meador was a freshman at Southern Illinois in 1966 when he lost his eyesight in the accident. A few weeks later, his father brought him back to the golf course and he re-learned the game. He won the National Blind Golf Championship in 1977, 2011 and 2012. Meador also successfully battled Hodgkin’s Disease and colon cancer. He is a past president of the US Blind Golf Association.

Meador, who beat Jeff Klauk and Lindsey Wright to win the 2013 award, is the third blind golfer to win the Hogan Award. Joe Lazaro won it in 1970 and Pat Browne won in 1988.

Davies, who beat Greg Norman and Luke Donald in the GWAA balloting, has entertained reporters and fans for more than two decades with a biting wit, an irreverent perspective and a larger-than-life personality. A powerful player with a soft touch, the British star has won 82 times worldwide, including 20 LPGA wins and four majors, but remains one major or two regular LPGA wins short of qualifying for the Hall of Fame.

She is the only player – either European or American -- to play in all 12 Solheim Cups.

She was the first non-American to lead the LPGA money list in 1994, the same year she was named female player of the year by the GWAA and Golf Writers Trophy winner by the Association of Golf Writers. She won the GWAA’s POY award again in 1996. She was named a Member of the British Empire in 1988 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, one of the highest honors for a British citizen.

Past recipients of the Richardson Award, named for The New York Times’ William D. Richardson who was instrumental in the founding of the GWAA in 1946, include Jack Burke Jr., the Harmon Family, Furman Bisher, Maj. Dan Rooney, Pete Dye, Louise Suggs, Judy Rankin, Nancy Lopez, Sandy Tatum, Dan Jenkins, Judy Bell, Babe Zaharias, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, Patty Berg, Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Harvey Penick, Peggy Kirk Bell, Frank Hannigan and Lee Trevino.

Former Hogan award winners include Rankin, Tom Watson, Sophie Gustafson, Barbara Douglas, Ken Green, Erik Compton, Denis Watson, Hubert Green, Bruce Edwards, Scott Verplank, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Casey Martin, Paul Azinger, Trevino and Ken Venturi.

Previous ASAP/Jim Murray winners include Brad Faxon, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, Juli Inkster, Palmer, Nicklaus, Lopez, Nick Price and Jay Haas.

The 860-member GWAA takes an active role in protecting the interests of all golf journalists, works closely with all of golf’s major governing bodies and the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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