HOUSTON (Jan 13, 2009) - Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, former Nationwide Tour player Erik Compton and Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Furman Bisher have been honored with three prestigious awards given by the Golf Writers Association of America.
Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient, won the Ben Hogan Award for remaining active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness, while Bisher, who has been with the AJC for more than 50 years, was honored with the William D. Richardson Award, given annually to recognize individuals who have consistently made an outstanding contribution to golf. Inkster is the ASAPSports/Jim Murray Award winner.
They will be honored, along with GWAA Players of the Year Padraig Harrington, Lorena Ochoa and Jay Haas at the Annual GWAA Awards Dinner, April 8 in Augusta, Ga.
Compton, 28, has been an inspiration on and off the course for his entire career. Compton had his first transplant at the age of 12, but went on to play on the U.S. Walker Cup team. He competed on the Nationwide Tour for six seasons. He suffered a heart attack last spring and underwent a second transplant in May. Last fall, just five months after that transplant, he made it through the first stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying School, but fell short in the second stage. A few weeks later, he made the cut at the Children's Miracle Network Classic. Compton beat Todd Demsey and Billy Mayfair in the Hogan balloting.
Bisher, who celebrated his 90th birthday last fall, still writes his column for the AJC and walks golf courses. He began his golf writing career at the 1938 Greater Greensboro Open when he covered the event for a college journalism assignment at North Carolina. He has covered every Masters since 1950, is in the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and was honored with the PGA of America's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He also has his own blog--Bisher Unleashed. He edged Hall of Famer Jack Burke, Jr., and architect Pete Dye for the honor.
The 48-year-old Inkster is known as one of the most entertaining and brutally honest players in the game. She embodies the ASAP/Murray award that recognizes a player for cooperation, quotability and accommodation to the media and for reflecting the most positive aspects of the working relationship between athlete and journalists. Inkster, who burst onto the national stage by winning three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles (1980-82) and went on to win 31 times on the LPGA Tour, edged Harrington and Stewart Cink for the award.
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 the Harmon Family, Louise Suggs, Judy Rankin, Nancy Lopez, Sandy Tatum, Dan Jenkins, Judy Bell, Babe Zaharias, Jack Nicklaus, Ely Callaway, Ben Hogan, Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, Patty Berg, Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Harvey Penick, Peggy Kirk Bell, Frank Hannigan, Kathy Whitworth and Lee Trevino.
Former Hogan award winners include Rankin, Denis Watson, Hubert Green, Bruce Edwards, Jeff Julian, Scott Verplank, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Casey Martin, Paul Azinger, Robert Allenby, Lee Trevino, John Mahaffey, Jim Nelford, Ken Venturi, Terri-Jo Meyers and Steve Jones.
This is the seventh year for the ASAP/Jim Murray Award. Previous winners were Palmer, Nicklaus, Lopez, Nick Price, Fred Funk, Jay Haas and Gary Player.
The 975-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 and facilitates a scholarship/internship program which is currently helping students at 17 major U.S. universities.