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Player Suggs Watson Honored by GWAA

HOUSTON ' Hall of Famers Louise Suggs and Gary Player and Champions Tour veteran Denis Watson have been honored with three prestigious awards given by the Golf Writers Association of America.
Suggs, one of the 13 founders of the LPGA, was honored with the William D. Richardson Award, given annually to recognize individuals who have consistently made an outstanding contribution to golf. Player, one of five men to win the Grand Slam and an ambassador for the World Golf Hall of Fame, is the 2007 ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award winner, and Watson won the Ben Hogan Award for remaining active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.
They will be honored, along with GWAA Players of the Year Tiger Woods, Lorena Ochoa and Jay Haas at the Annual GWAA Awards Dinner, April 9 in Augusta, Ga.
Suggs, who turns 85 this year, won 58 times in her career, including 11 majors. She has tirelessly promoted the LPGA -- from the early days when she attended minor league baseball games and boxing matches through her retirement. She traveled to St. Andrews in 2007 for the first professional womens event at the Old Course and raised the flag at the Solheim Cup in Sweden. She was honored with the 2007 Bob Jones Award and was also honored at the 2007 Memorial Tournament. She beat Hall of Famer Jack Burke, Jr., and Doc Giffin in the balloting
Player, one of the games most gracious and entertaining interviews, embodies the award that recognizes a player for cooperation, quotability and for accommodation to the media and for reflecting the most positive aspects of the working relationship between athlete and journalists. The South African was the first true global golfer and promoted the importance of the press in golf every chance he gets ' whether as a player or as the International team captain for the Presidents Cup. Player edged Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and glib Champions Tour member Peter Jacobsen.
Watson, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR in 1984, struck a tree stump while playing a shot in South Africa in 1985 and that injury ultimately derailed his career. The injury led to a series of operations on his wrist, elbow and neck and he played just 36 tournaments from 1997-2006. He also missed his first season on the Champions Tour after surgery on his right shoulder. In 2007, he won twice, including the Senior PGA Championship, and finished fourth on the money list. He edged LPGA star Reilley Rankin and fellow Champions Tour member Tim Simpson.
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, 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, 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 and Jay Haas.
The 960-member GWAA takes an active role in protecting the interests of all golf journalists, works closely with all of golfs 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.