Hal Sutton, Centenary
Few have achieved the measure of success enjoyed by Hal Sutton at the amateur, collegiate and professional levels of golf.
An All-American at Centenary College in his hometown of Shreveport, La., Sutton’s amateur career was highlighted by a myriad of individual and team victories. The winner of the 1979 and 1980 Western Amateur Championships, he finished ranked as high as ninth nationally in 1980 as a student-athlete and was twice a Trans America Athletic Conference team and individual champion. He also picked up a pair of All-Conference and TAAC Player of the Year (1979, 1980) nods as well.
In 1980 he completed his amateur career in fantastic fashion. He led Centenary to a ninth-place finish in the NCAA Championships, was selected by Golf Magazine as the College Player of the Year, won the U.S. Amateur, North and South Amateur, Western Amateur and Northeast Amateur titles and was the Eisenhower Trophy medalist.
Sutton won 14 times on the PGA Tour with more than $15 million in career earnings between 1982 and 2006. His biggest tour victory came in the 1983 PGA Championship, when the 25-year-old Sutton fired opening scores of 65 and 66 and held on to claim a dramatic win and his only major title by edging a late-charging Jack Nicklaus by one stroke.
On numerous occasions Sutton ranked in the top 10 of the world golf rankings and continued to play well into the late 1990s, when he claimed titles at the Tour Championship (1998) and The Players Championship (2000), which is considered to be golf's fifth major. Sutton is believed to hold the distinction as the only player who has outdueled both Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in the final holes of major golf tournaments.
Sutton also became a regular on the PGA Champions Tour, where he recorded nearly $2 million in earnings and a dozen Top-10 finishes.
Sutton has made his mark outside of the tour, as he was a standout on four U.S. Ryder Cup teams (1985, 1987, 1999, 2002) and was the captain of the 2004 team. In 1998 and 2000 he also represented the U.S. in Presidents Cup competition. He also was a member of two U.S. Walker Cup championship teams in 1979 and 1981.
Off the course Sutton has been a valuable community member as well. In 2004 he received the Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award, awarded annually at the Independence Bowl to recognize outstanding American citizens and organizations that symbolize the spirit of freedom and independence.
Possibly one of his most meaningful recognitions, Sutton received The Payne Stewart Award following his role in the establishment of the Christus Schumpert Sutton Children's Hospital in Shreveport, La. In May of 2006, the five-story wing with 80 beds was opened with Sutton leading the charge after his agent's seven-year-old daughter died of spinal meningitis. The Hal Sutton Foundation hosts a charity golf tournament each spring to benefit the hospital and the event has raised more than $6 million. Lastly, Sutton shared the Golf Writers Association of America's 2006 Charlie Bartlett Award with Louisianan's Kelly Gibson and David Toms for their combined $2 million-plus in aid to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita victims.