Justin Rose still remembers as a youngster being thrown a golf ball by Payne Stewart who was then competing at the 1993 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. Nearly 30-years on and Rose has been honoured as the 2021 recipient of the PGA Tour’s Payne Stewart Award.
The accolade, in honour of the World Golf Hall of Fame member and 11-time PGA Tour winner who tragically died in an air disaster in 1999, is awarded to the golfer who exemplifies Stewart’s steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship.
Rose is the 24th recipient of the award, following on from Zach Johnson in 2020, with the former world No 1 recognised for his respect for the game and his charity work across the globe. Rose was made aware of the award ahead of this week’s appearance at the Wyndham Championship.
“It’s been a huge surprise and a lovely honour and something that’s definitely uplifted me,” said Rose.
“It’s the kind of award I think that clearly it’s not based around your golf. The golf’s been a platform for me to sort of I guess do other things and be honoured and recognised in this way, but it’s the type of reward that kind of makes you reflect a little bit on all the things that contributed towards that.
“It has been a nice feeling to have just a little bit of time to reflect on all of the reasons that maybe I’ve been awarded it. Yeah, it’s a nice feel-good feeling, absolutely. Something I’m very proud of, and obviously the list of the names I’m joining on that trophy, yeah, it’s overwhelming actually. It’s definitely some great players and more importantly some great role models in the game.
“I am truly humbled and honoured to be associated with the enduring legacy of Payne Stewart through this award as the Payne Stewart Award has become an annual celebration of Payne’s impact on the PGA TOUR and its players. I am forever grateful to be connected to a man who was the consummate professional on and off the golf course and will cherish being a Payne Stewart Award recipient well after my playing days are over.”
And in being honoured with the award, Rose revealed the first time he first ‘met’ Stewart as a then 13-year-old.
“I never got to know Payne from a personal point of view but I had meetings with him in my life and in my golfing life,” said Rose. “As a young boy he actually threw me a golf ball at an Open Championship I think way back in 1993, so that was a cool moment and made my day.
“Then at the Open Championship in ’98, I was just hitting balls on the range and Payne was just one of the guys who stopped by. I just remember — I can’t remember exactly what he said, but he watched me hit two or three balls and said, “Oh, that’s how it’s done,” like a cool comment, just something that showed his charisma really, I suppose.”
Rose selected the Kate & Justin Rose Foundation as the destination for the $300,000 charity donation allocated to the winner, which has worked to support organisations in South Africa, the United States, the Bahamas and in England since launching in 2009.
Rose is a 10-time winner on the PGA Tour, most recently at the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open The foundation has helped with the rebuilding of the Grand Bahamas Children’s Home, after it had been damaged by Hurricane Dorian in 2019, and also worked closely with the “Blessings in a Backpack” initiative to help hungry children in Orlando during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Rose family showed their commitment to the sport by launching the Rose Ladies Series, giving female golfers playing opportunities in the UK for big prize purses, while the Olympic golf medallist has also sponsored the “Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship” for many years.
“Justin Rose embodies everything the Payne Stewart Award represents,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. “Like Payne, he has been one of the premier players of his generation while using his platform to better the lives of those around him.
“The inspiring progress that he and Kate have made through their family’s foundation is a terrific representation of how Payne chose to focus his efforts away from the golf course, by giving back and treating people the right way.”
Rose is the second player from England to receive the Payne Stewart Award, following on from Sir Nick Faldo in 2014, while Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson are among the other notable recipients since its launch in 2000.