AKRON - Hale Irwin has a reputation. As a World Golf Hall of Famer, 19-time PGA Tour champion, 45-time Champions Tour victor, five-time Ryder Cup team member and three-time U.S. Open winner, Irwin’s history on the links is undeniable. His glistening trophy case is full - rooms and rooms of honors from the links fill his home. After 30 years as a professional, it must be, right? In actuality, it may be tough to find any trace of those accomplishments. It might be even tougher to find any trace of his championship purse. But we’re not talking about another unfortunate athlete-in-bankruptcy story. For Irwin, his charity work goes above and beyond the reach of his peers – golfers, athletes and celebrities alike. For these reasons, Irwin has been named the 2009 PGA Tour Ambassador of Golf. The award is presented annually to a person or persons who have fostered the ideals of the game on an international level and whose concern for others extends beyond the golf course. “When notified of this award, I have to say I was very humbled and very honored. When you are recognized by others within your industry or sport, it is a special time,” said Irwin. “I have been blessed with having a lot of great people that have been around me throughout my career.” A two-sport star at the University of Colorado (also an all-conference defensive back in football), Irwin has the multi-tasking game down to a science. In addition to playing a nearly full schedule on the Champions Tour since 1995, Irwin has helped found and support the Hale Irwin Center for Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The center helps children suffering from blood and cancer disorders receive specialized care from a team of dedicated experts in a comfortable, nonthreatening environment. “I think those of us that are in a position where we can help charity, it is something that we really need to entertain and hopefully will become involved with some line of work with those charities. There’s not a bad charity out there,” said Irwin. His honor will be officially celebrated at a banquet on August 5th in conjunction with the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio. For Irwin, there couldn’t be a better place to celebrate the award. “Every time I got to play at Firestone, I was delighted. It was a very challenging golf course. The reception, the hospitality, everything about the tournament was fantastic, and it goes just beyond the first tee to the 18th green. It extends into the community, and we were all well received,” said Irwin. “[T]he standard set at Akron became the standard by which all other tournaments had to perform. It was clearly the course, the organization, everybody, that made that such a wonderful tournament. And that’s the way the players approach it.” The WGC Bridgestone Invitational will tee off on August 6th at the South Course of Akron’s historic Firestone Country Club. Seventy-four of the world’s top players will travel to Northeast Ohio for the event. Vijay Singh lifted the hardware last season, but hot on his tail will be six-time Bridgestone champion Tiger Woods.
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