Park, Golf Channel, Kirk-Bell, Rankin, and Blumenherst receive accolades
Rolex Rankings No. 1 and three-time major winner in 2013 Inbee Park was on hand to accept the Rolex Player of the Year award. She became the first South Korean to etch her name alongside an elite list of former winners including Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, and Stacy Lewis.
Park highlighted the star-studded evening at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples which honored the winners of the Commissioner’s, Patty Berg, William & Mousie Powell, and Heather Farr Perseverance awards. The 25-year-old brought the room to tears with an emotional speech as she thanked her family and caddie, Brad Beecher, for helping her through what has been a historic year. Park, who said that she earned the nickname ‘Silent Assassin’ for her emotionless play, credited her success this year to focusing on one goal.
“Who is the silent assassin? Someone who believes in finding happiness,” Park said. “As soon as happiness became my goal, I had my best season ever.”
Currently ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, Park mathematically clinched Player of the Year at last week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex after a fourth-place finish. Park’s historic run to the honor is highlighted by six LPGA Tour victories including becoming only the second player in LPGA history – and the first in the modern era – to win the first three major championships.
While the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year and Vare Trophy winners won’t be decided until the completion of the final round of this week’s CME Group Titlehlolders, this year’s Rolex First-Time Winners were recognized on Friday. There were four Rolex First-Time winners this year: Jennifer Johnson (Mobile Bay LPGA Classic), Ilhee Lee (Pure Silk-Bahamas Classic), Lexi Thompson (Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia), and Amy Yang (LPGA KEB Hanabank Championship).
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan presented this year’s Commissioner’s Award to Golf Channel, who has been a longstanding partner of the LPGA Tour since 1995.
In 2010, Golf Channel took over as exclusive partner and saw a 68 percent increase over the past two seasons of domestic tournaments. This year, the LPGA Tour had live coverage for more than 90 percent of North American telecasts, including 100 percent of weekend telecasts.
“Golf Channel’s dedication to the LPGA Tour has allowed us to reach a wide array of households and aided in the ability for us to grow as an organization,” said Whan. “Each year Golf Channel thinks of new innovative to showcase the unique personalities of our players.”
The Commissioner’s Award, introduced in 1991 by the LPGA, honors a person or organization who has contributed uniquely to the LPGA and its members, who has furthered the cause of women’s golf, and whose character and standards are of the highest order. Previous award recipients have included Karsten and Louise Solheim; Jamie Farr; the LPGA Founders; Rolex; and Smucker’s.
"The LPGA is a part of the foundation of Golf Channel and we have shared in the mission to showcase women’s golf since our partnership first took root with the launch of our network in 1995,” said Mike McCarley, President of Golf Channel. “It is an honor for Golf Channel to be recognized with the Commissioner’s Award and on behalf of the network, we are eager to continue to strengthen our partnership with the LPGA in the years to come."
Peggy Kirk-Bell’s profound impact on the game of golf goes beyond just her career on the LPGA Tour where she picked-up one win at the inaugural Titleholders Championship in 1949. While Kirk-Bell never had the intention of making golf her career, she has gone on to become one of the most decorated teachers in the game.
“You would never hear Patty say anything bad about any person,” said Kirk-Bell, longtime friend of Berg. “She was always willing to put on a show and she always wanted to entertain people. This is award is the highest award I have ever received. I am surprised and very honored to receive the Patty Berg Award. She was my good friend and a wonderful, wonderful person.”
In 1951, Kirk-Bell won the LPGA Teacher of the Year Award and in 1990, she was awarded the Ellen Griffin Rolex Award and Bobby Jones Award. In 2004, Kirk-Bell became the first woman inducted into Golf Magazine’s World Golf Teachers of Fame.
In addition to Kirk-Bell’s accolades on the links and teaching the game, she is the author of “Woman’s Way to Better Golf” and “The Gift of Golf, My Life With a Wonderful Life”.
LPGA Tour players voted on two awards this year and selected Amanda Blumenherst as the recipient of the William & Mousie Powell Award and Reilley Rankin as the recipient of the Heather Farr Perseverance Award.
Considered one of the most decorated amateur and collegiate golfers of all-time, Amanda Blumenherst was honored with the William & Mousie Powell Award which is given to an LPGA member who, in the opinion of her playing peers, by her behavior and deeds, best exemplifies the spirits, ideals and values of the LPGA.
Prior to joining the LPGA Tour, Blumenherst became the only three-time recipient of the Nancy Lopez Award and the only two-time winner of the Dinah Shore Award (awarded to a female collegiate golfer who excels in both academics and athletics, while also demonstrating outstanding leadership skills and community service).
The Duke University graduate joined the LPGA Tour in 2010 and went on to record six career top-10 finishes before stepping away from the game in August after marrying Major League Baseball (MLB) standout Nate Freiman.
"I feel so honored to have been selected by the LPGA and given the William & Mousie Powell Award,” said Blumenherst. “The past recipients of this award were my role models as a junior golfer, and I have been fortunate enough to consider many of these amazing women my friends. To be chosen by my peers to join this list has truly touched me and is something that I will treasure forever."
The late Mousie Powell, for whom this award was named, was a close supporter and friend of the LPGA from the 1950s until her death on Jan. 18, 1997. She was married to William Powell, a Hollywood legend and one of its leading male actors. Mousie, who was also featured in movies during that time, started the William and Mousie Award in 1986. Past recipients include: Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Betsy King, Juli Inkster, and Lorena Ochoa.
Reilly Rankin was honored with the Heather Farr Perseverance Award on Friday night. On June 4, 1998 while playing collegiate golf at the University of Georgia, Rankin’s life would change forever. Preparing to enter her junior year of college, Rankin suffered from a broken back, broken sternum and a bruised heart, lungs and aorta after jumping off a cliff into a lake.
Rankin was in a body cast for three months but returned to the University of Georgia women’s golf team two years later and in 2001, led the Bulldogs to the NCAA National Championship win. She would go on to graduate from the University of Georgia in 2001 and join the LPGA Tour in 2004.
The 34-year-old, South Carolina native brought the packed ballroom to tears with her poignant and powerful speech. She described the long and arduous process of returning to competitive golf after doctors told her that she might not walk again, let alone play golf. Rankin said that she visualized Forrest Gump breaking out of his braces and running as she worked to get out of her back brace. She also said that she was inspired by a quote that her mom had in the house growing up,“You only see an obstacle when you take your eyes off the goal,” Rankin said.
The Heather Farr Player award honors an LPGA player who, through her hard work, dedication and love of the game of golf, has demonstrated determination, perseverance and spirit in fulfilling her goals as a player. The LPGA established the award in 1994 to celebrate the life of Farr, an LPGA Tour player who died on Nov. 20, 1993, following a four-and-a-half-year battle with breast cancer. Past winners of this award include: Heather Farr, Shelley Hamlin, Martha Nause, Terry-Jo Myers, Lorie Kane, Nancy Scranton, Brandi Burton, Kris Tschetter, Kim Williams, Beth Daniel, Colleen Walker, Amy Read, Se Ri Pak, Leta Lindley and Sophie Gustafson.
Topics: Press Release