NAPLES, Fla. - LPGA Tour players, sponsors, and media took part in a night of celebration at Thursday night’s Rolex LPGA Awards to honor the 2016 end-of-the-year award recipients.
The star-studded evening at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida honored the winners of the Commissioner’s, Ellen Griffin Rolex, William & Mousie Powell and the Heather Farr Perseverance Awards.
While the Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy winners won’t be decided until the completion of the final round of this week’s CME Group Tour Championship, this year’s Rolex First-Time Winners were also recognized during Thursday night’s ceremony. There were eight Rolex First-Time winners this year: Ha Na Jang (Coates Golf Championship), Haru Nomura (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open), Jenny Shin (Volunteers of America Texas Shootout), Ariya Jutanugarn (Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic), Brooke Henderson (KPMG Women’s PGA Championship), Caroline Masson (Manulife LPGA Classic), In Gee Chun (The Evian Championship) and Carlota Ciganda (KEB HanaBank Championship).
Additionally, In Gee Chun accepted her Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, which she clinched with six events remaining in the season.
Wakefern Food Corporation Receives The Commissioner's Award
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan presented this year’s Commissioner’s Award to Jeff Reagan, Senior Vice President of ShopRite Supermarkets and Wakefern Food Corporation. ShopRite has proudly served as the title sponsor of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer since 1992, raising over $30 million for charities through its association with the tournament and the LPGA. By sponsoring South Jersey’s largest annual sporting event, ShopRite has been able to bring great golf to the community and great giving to local schools, hospitals and organizations that help those in need.
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; Smucker’s; Wegmans and CME Group.
Pia Nilsson Honored With Ellen Griffin Rolex Award
The Ellen Griffin Rolex Award, instituted by the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional membership in 1989, was created in honor of the late Ellen Griffin, the best-known woman golf teacher in U.S. history. The award recognizes an individual, male or female, who has made a major contribution to the teaching of golf and who has demonstrated, through teaching, Griffin’s spirit, love and dedication to the golf student, teaching skills and game of golf.
Pia Nilsson, co-founder of VISION54 and widely respected in the coaching arena, joins an elite group of her peers as this year’s recipient. As an LPGA Tour player from 1983-87, Nilsson parlayed her passion into a tremendous career as a coach, mentor and advisor - teaching golf, fitness and the mental game to women in both Europe and the U.S. Best known for her role in coaching Annika Sorenstam during her legendary career, Pia’s other notable students include LPGA Tour players Suzann Pettersen, Ai Miyazato, Brittany Lang, Na Yeon Choi and Ariya Jutanugarn.
Jutanugarn and Webb Receive Player-Voted Awards
LPGA Tour players voted on two awards this year and selected Karrie Webb as the recipient of the William & Mousie Powell Award and Ariya Jutanugarn as the recipient of the Heather Farr Perseverance Award.
LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb is this year’s recipient of the William and Mousie Powell Award, given annually 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.
Over the course of her 20-year LPGA career, Webb has become one of the greatest ambassadors women’s golf has ever known. From serving as a player director on the LPGA’s Board of Directors to donating towards the creation of The Founders Film, the two-time LPGA Tour Player of the Year has been adamant in immersing herself in all aspects of the game and helping the Tour grow. The 41-time LPGA winner and seven-time major champion is the greatest Australian to play the game and has used her platform to create the Karrie Webb Series, designed with Golf Australia to award the top two female amateur players with a chance to come to the United States and visit with Karrie during one of her professional tournaments and experience life on the LPGA tour. Rising LPGA stars Minjee Lee and Su Oh are just two players to have gone through the Karrie Webb Series.
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, Lorena Ochoa, Chella Choi and Juli Inkster.
The Heather Farr Perseverance 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. In 2013, Ariya Jutanugarn climbed all the way to No. 15 in the world before suffering a torn labrum in her right shoulder in an accident during a practice round at the 2013 Wegman’s LPGA Championship. The injury required surgery and forced Jutanugarn to spend eight months in recovery. Tough seasons followed in 2014 and 2015, but Ariya has emerged as one of the best players on the planet this year. She became the first player in Tour history to have the first three wins of her career come in consecutive tournaments after breaking through for her first victory at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic. Jutanugarn then became the first Thai player – male or female – to win a major championship at the RICOH Women’s British Open. Now No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings, the 20-year-old leads the Tour this season in wins (5), Official Money, Race to the CME Globe points and the Rolex Player of the Year standings.
The LPGA established the Heather Farr Perseverance Award in 1994 to celebrate the life of Farr, an LPGA Tour player who died on November 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, Sophie Gustafson, Lisa Fererro and Stephanie Meadow.