Savannah native and resident Gene Sauers. (AP File Photo)
AUGUSTA -- To Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, who has battled Gene Sauers for years on the golf course, the Savannahian is “one of the good guys, and that’s a real compliment.”
A 2013 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Montgomerie spoke Wednesday morning about Sauers, who was receiving the Ben Hogan Award that night at the Golf Writers Association of America’s annual awards dinner.
“When the draw comes out, the tee times come out, and you get Gene Sauers, you think, ‘I’m going to have a good day today,’” Montgomerie said. “You don’t say that about many, really, but Gene Sauers is one of the good guys. I wish him a lot of success.”
The Hogan Award is for a golfer who is active despite a physical handicap or serious illness. Sauers has shown immense courage in battling a rare and painful skin disease, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which kept him out of golf for six years. Sauers, who won on the PGA Tour, is now 54 and often in contention on the PGA Champions Tour.
He went head-to-head with Montgomerie in a three-hole playoff at the U.S. Senior Open Championship in July 2014 at Oak Tree in Edmond, Oklahoma. Montgomerie, who won that day, had no idea that Sauers had survived a life-threatening illness.
“I was unaware of his condition and what this meant to him. Mind you, I wouldn’t have given (the tournament) to him even if I had (known),” he said with a laugh. “But at the same time, a real gentleman.”
Montgomerie was happy that Sauers was able to win the same major tournament last August in Ohio, calling it “superb.”
“I said to him, I want to be the first to congratulate him and, hopefully, I was one of the first because he was really, really deserving after hearing of this very rare disease that eats you from the inside, a burning feeling from the inside. I hadn’t heard of it, personally. But a real gentleman, a real nice chap.”