Steve Stricker, Bob Ford, Peter Jacobsen to be honored at April’s ISPS/GWAA Dinner in Augusta

By Jeff Babineau, GWAA

(ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 19, 2023) – In a matter of weeks, Steve Stricker went from the high of captaining a 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory on home-state soil in Wisconsin to beginning the 2022 PGA Tour Champions season bedridden, fighting a mysterious illness that would deplete his strength and keep him away from the game he loved.

Club professional Bob Ford not only had access to the first tee at two of America’s most esteemed golf properties, he owned the keys to both pro shops, too, generously serving memberships at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club and Seminole Golf Club (Juno Beach, Fla.) for decades.

Peter Jacobsen has been a consummate entertainer since his earliest days on tour in the late 1970s, equally adept whether yielding his golf clubs or his witty quips and takes. In addition to collecting golf trophies through the years, Jacobsen also collected many friends among the media members who covered him. He has been giving of his time and accessible to share his thoughtful views on the game he has loved as a competitor and broadcaster. 

Stricker, Ford and Jacobsen have been named 2022 recipients of three prestigious honors given annually by the voting membership of the Golf Writers Association of America. On April 5, at the 49th ISPS/GWAA Dinner in Augusta, Ga., in the heart of Masters week, Stricker will receive the Ben Hogan Award, given by the GWAA to an individual who has continued to be active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness. 

Ford is the winner of the William D. Richardson Award, recognizing an individual who has consistently made an outstanding contribution to golf. 

Jacobsen will receive the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award for his “cooperation, quotability and accommodation to the media, and for reflecting the most positive aspects of the working relationship between athlete and journalist.” The award is sponsored by ASAP Sports and given to honor the spirit of the late Jim Murray, the gifted columnist from The Los Angeles Times. 

Stricker, 55, went from having a bothersome cough after his victory at the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in 2021 to two stays in the hospital. His white blood cell count soared, his liver count plummeted and he experienced dangerous inflammation around his heart. Stricker lost 25 pounds during his illness. After being out for months, Stricker returned to competition in April of last year and won four tournaments, finishing third in the Schwab Cup despite making only 12 starts. 

“Receiving the Ben Hogan Award is a tremendous honor and one that I am humbled to be the recipient of,” Stricker said. “It’s unique as awards go, because it’s not one that you set out to achieve at the beginning of the year, like a player of the year, or Schwab Cup champion. 

“But receiving this award with Mr. Hogan’s name on it has reminded me of where I was in November of 2021, and I truly realize how far I came in a relatively short amount of time to have one of my best seasons. I am grateful, and I want to thank the Golf Writers Association of America again for this award and for honoring me with it.”

Stricker has won 11 times on the PGA Tour Champions after winning 12 times on the PGA Tour, where he was a two-time Comeback Player of the Year. Former Hogan award winners include Tiger Woods, Judy Rankin, J.B. Holmes, Tom Watson, Sophie Gustafson, Barbara Douglas, Jarrod Lyle, Ken Green, Erik Compton, Denis Watson, Hubert Green, Bruce Edwards, Scott Verplank, Jose Maria Olazabal, Casey Martin, Paul Azinger, Lee Trevino and Ken Venturi.

Ford, 69, was trying to decide which golf path he would pursue following his standout college days at the University of Tampa and was leaning toward a playing career. He was somewhat surprised by advice he received from Lew Worsham, the 1947 U.S. Open champion, who helped to steer him down a different path. Ford worked for Worsham at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where Worsham was head professional. By age 25, Ford would become the club’s head professional, manning the position for nearly four decades. 

Ford tutored more than 50 assistant professionals who would branch out and become head golf professionals. Ford turned out to be a pretty good hire, too; he established himself as one of the top PGA club professionals in the country, recognized for his class in being one of the game’s great ambassadors, as well as revered for a golf game that led him to play in 10 PGA Championships and three U.S. Opens to go along with three Pennsylvania Open titles. 

In 1983, Ford not only ran operations when the U.S. Open visited Oakmont, but competed in the tournament, finishing in 26th place. He was at Oakmont for 37 years, retiring after the 2016 U.S. Open. In 1999, Ford added the title of head professional at Seminole, once Ben Hogan’s preferred Florida playing ground. Ford spent his winters in Florida and summers back home in Pennsylvania. His last week at Seminole was a special one, serving as host pro as Seminole staged the 2021 Walker Cup. Ford was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 2005 and was recipient of the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 2017.   

“I’m just speechless. [Past GWAA president Tim Rosaforte, a personal friend] always talked about the award, and I know how special that is,” Ford said. 

The Richardson Award is named for William D. Richardson, a New York Times writer who was instrumental in the formation of the GWAA in 1946. Past winners include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Ben Hogan, Dottie Pepper, Nancy Lopez, Judy Rankin, Doc Giffin, David Fay, Jack Burke, Jr., the Harmon Family, Furman Bisher, Maj. Dan Rooney, Pete Dye, Sandy Tatum, Dan Jenkins, Judy Bell, President Dwight Eisenhower, Patty Berg, Gene Sarazen, Harvey Penick, Peggy Kirk Bell and Lee Trevino.

Jacobsen, 68, honored by the GWAA as its 2017 winner of the Charlie Bartlett Award (for unselfish contributions for the betterment of society), played the PGA Tour full-time from 1977-2003, winning seven times, before moving on to the PGA Tour Champions and later, a second career in television at NBC. Jacobsen was the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2003 and played on two U.S. Ryder Cup teams. 

He was the 2013 recipient of the Payne Stewart Award (which Stricker won in 2012), recognizing a golfer who best exemplifies the values of character, charity and sportsmanship. Jacobsen and Stewart were close friends; likewise, Jacobsen knew Murray, who enjoyed writing about the smiling, outgoing young pro from Oregon. 

“I’m old enough to have known and spent time with Jim Murray. I respected him and liked him a great deal,” Jacobsen said. “The humanity (with which) he treated all players and sports figures … he always did an in-depth look rather than just writing about birdies and eagles and majors. I just thought he was one of the best, along with Dan Jenkins.”

Previous ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award winners honored by the GWAA include Palmer, Nicklaus, Lopez, Stricker, Davis Love III, Brad Faxon, Padraig Harrington, Juli Inkster, Jim Furyk, Nick Price and Jay Haas.

Stricker, Ford and Jacobsen will be honored April 5 at the 49th ISPS/GWAA Dinner in Augusta, Ga. Also honored that night will be 2022 GWAA Players of the Year Scottie Scheffler (Male Player of the Year), Lydia Ko (Female Player of the Year) and Steven Alker (Senior Player of the Year), as well as the 2022 Charlie Bartlett Award recipient (to be announced Feb. 1) and the winner of the PGA of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism, which has yet to be named. 

The 2020 Lifetime Achievement winner (honored last April in Augusta) was Bill Fields, longtime award-winning writer/photographer at Golf World, who now works as a researcher at NBC in addition to producing his own golf newsletter, The Albatross. There were no recipients named in 2021 and 2022 due to the annual dinner being canceled because of COVID-19.