WWT Ambassador Billy Andrade Wins Payne Stewart Award
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WWT is proud to partner with PGA Tour Champions professional Billy Andrade, who earlier this year was named the 2022 recipient of the PGA TOUR's Payne Stewart Award presented by Southern Company.
The award is presented annually by the PGA Tour to a professional golfer who best exemplifies Stewart's steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship. Stewart died suddenly in 1999 in a plane crash.
Andrade's recognition — the award recognizes those who uphold Stewart's legacy of character, sportsmanship and commitment to charitable giving further solidifies — further solidifies his alignment with WWT, which cherishes many of the same values.
WWT recently caught up with Andrade to talk about the award and the role values have played in his career since turning pro in 1987.
Walk us through the day you learned you were being named the 2022 Payne Stewart Award recipient.
It was definitely a surprise. I had gotten the PGA Tour to come to my charity event weekend and they had made it seem like they were going to interview me about my charity work. So we had 250 people or so there for a big party on Saturday night. I had just gotten done playing 27 holes and the Tour asked if I could do a sit down interview and I agreed. So I'm showing them around the clubhouse and then they start showing me upstairs to the champions locker room — I didn't even know there was a champions locker room.
I walked in and there was my mom and dad, who hadn't left home since COVID. My wife and son were there. So I came around the corner, saw them and instantly thought I was in trouble. My dad said, "Hi William," and I reverted back to feeling like I was 5 years old when you walk in and see your parents.
And then they went into the presentation and I was absolutely speechless. It was very emotional. I thought, being 58 years old, that maybe my time had passed. The last two recipients were younger. It was just an unbelievable feeling. The values and sportsmanship and just everything the award represents, it was just phenomenal. And to be honored by my peers — former award winners vote on it and the Tour votes on it — it's the highlight of my career. For me, it's golf's highest honor.
Why are the values you're being recognized for with the award important to you?
I've had great role models come before me — Arnold Palmer, I received his scholarship while at Wake Forest, and former Payne Stewart Award winners like Brad Faxon, Peter Jacobsen or Jay Haas. These are guys I'm very close with and the values they represent. And the values my family instilled in my when I was a kid. I'm very lucky in that regard. Just learning the sportsmanship and character of the game from them.
These values are something that are just in me. And it's in the core, too, for World Wide Technology and Jim Kavanaugh, who I've seen first hand reflect these leadership qualities. And I'm talking both on and off the golf course. Just the way he deals with his clients and customers is something I look up to.
WWT's culture and core values are closely linked with yours. Is a sponsor that aligns with your values important?
Absolutely, yes. I met Matt Horner and Graham Bundy at The Regions Tradition tournament and right away, I realized these were guys that were a great fit. When my bag sponsorship came up, it's something we discussed and it worked out. I believe I was the first athlete to sign a deal with WWT, at least in golf. And the partnership has been incredible ever since. I've spent time with Jim (Kavanaugh) and Matt and Graham and it's just amazing to see how they handle people — it's how I would want to be handled. For me it was a win win. I'm not sure if I was being selective, but you kind of have that intuition when you meet companies or groups of folks. I'm proud to be associated with WWT. It's been a great run.
What about for those attending the WWT Championship? How should they tackle watching the tournament?
If you're going to be there for more than a day — I tell this to people all the time — you should walk the course and check it all out. Start one one and walk the whole thing. Get an idea of what players are going to be going through and the different challenges they will have.
Then if you're lucky enough to be around another day, I'd find a hole and watch all the groups come in. The 15th hole on El Camaleon is on the beach, it's a great par three with a great view of the water.
If you're walking with a group and following them for the day, that can be a great way to see how the world's best golfers handle adversity or approach shots. You know, not everybody makes every shot or putt. As a fan or player, you see the lead group and they may be 12 under after two days and you're thinking, "Wow, these guys must be making everything." But that's not always the case. They are just getting to the green efficiently, getting it close and putting themselves in great position.
What could we learn by watching the world's best up close?
Just watch their routine and how they go about attacking every shot. Most amateurs get up there and take a practice swing and get up sideways on the ball before hitting. They may nave no idea where the ball is lining up to go. Now, look at the pros. They're picking spots, they have great routines and they are purposeful. So I would watch the pros from that regard. Look at how they approach the tee box, how they are hitting in the fairways or around the greens. You can learn a lot.