Duke, Glenn & McDowell Honored by GWAA

At first glance, Ken Duke and Rhonda Glenn wouldn't seem to have much in common. But their perseverance and passion for golf are common denominators, and now they share this, too: They have been voted to receive 2014 honors from the Golf Writers Association of America.

Duke won the Ben Hogan Award for remaining active in golf despite a physical handicap (in his case, scoliosis) or serious illness. Glenn was named winner of the William D. Richardson Award for consistently making outstanding contributions to golf.

A third post-season honor, Murray Award, went to Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell for being accommodating to the media.

"I'm overwhelmed, so honored," said Duke, 44, who still has the 16-inch metal rod attached to his spine that was surgically placed when he was 15. Forced to wear a back brace, Duke still played high school golf in Arkansas. He turned pro in 1994, played all over the world and on nearly every mini-tour, before finally making it onto the PGA Tour in 2004 when he was 35.

His first PGA Tour win came last summer at the Travelers Championship in his 187th tournament, a testament to his determination. Asked what the Hogan award means to him, Duke beamed. "A class act, probably the best to ever play the game," he said. "He was a guy with an incredible work ethic. He put the time into learning to play the game."

Glenn, 67, is considered the foremost authority on women's golf and among the handful of books she has authored is, "The Illustrated History of Women's Golf," published in 1991. She also wrote "Breaking the Mold," the story of Judy Bell, the first woman president of the U.S. Golf Association.

For 47 years before her retirement last summer, Glenn served in the Communications department at the USGA, most prominently at the U.S. Women's Open, the U.S. Women's Amateur, and the U.S. Girls' Junior championships. But while Glenn remained very current, it is her grasp of history that has made her invaluable.

"Winning (this award) is a great honor, and also a surprise. While the award is for outstanding contributions to golf, I'm very aware that, more importantly, the game has made such an outstanding contribution to my life," said Glenn.

As a young girl, Glenn used to hit golf balls at a par-3 course in Palm Beach, Fla., where she would watch Mickey Wright practice. As fate would have it, Glenn later was paired with Wright in an LPGA Tour tournament and they became close friends. It was Glenn who encouraged the USGA to house a Mickey Wright Museum at its headquarters in Far Hills, N.J.

Before establishing herself as the voice of women's golf, Glenn, in 1981, was the first full-time national TV network female sportscaster when she began broadcasting at ESPN.

Though he went to college at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, McDowell played primarily in Europe after turning pro in 2002. Since winning the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he has taken up membership on the PGA Tour and established himself as a business owner with a pub at Lake Nona in Orlando, where he lives.

Last year McDowell added a second PGA Tour win, the RBC Heritage, and owns eight European Tour titles. Along the way, he has gathered a reputation as a refreshingly forthright and insightful interview.

"I take my relationship with the media very seriously," said the 34-year-old. "I'm pretty honest to a fault at times. It's very important to me. You guys give us exposure globally. You're a very important cog in the whole golf - and sports - machine. It's important - good, bad or ugly - to give you an idea of what's going on in my head and with my game."

Duke, Glenn, and McDowell will be presented their honors April 9 at the annual GWAA Awards Dinner in Augusta, Ga.

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 David Fay, Jack Burke, Jr., the Harmon Family, Furman Bisher, Maj. Dan Rooney, Pete Dye, Louise Suggs, Judy Rankin, Nancy Lopez, Sandy Tatum, Dan Jenkins, Judy Bell, Babe Zaharias, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, Patty Berg, Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Harvey Penick, Peggy Kirk Bell, Frank Hannigan and Lee Trevino.

Former Hogan Award winners include Rankin, Tom Watson, Sophie Gustafson, Barbara Douglas, Ken Green, Erik Compton, Denis Watson, Hubert Green, Bruce Edwards, Scott Verplank, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Casey Martin, Paul Azinger, David Meador, Trevino and Ken Venturi.

Previous AJim Murray winners include Palmer, Nicklaus, Lopez, Brad Faxon, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, Juli Inkster, Nick Price, Jay Haas and Laura Davies.