Jim Furyk: Ex-USA Ryder Cup captain congratulates teenage winner of sportsmanship award

Jensen Berridge with his framed letter from Jim Furyk
Jensen Berridge's personal letter of congratulations from Jim Furyk lay unopened for several weeks while the 3 Hammers complex was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic

A teenage Staffordshire amateur has become the first winner of a sportsmanship award named after former major winner Jim Furyk - and was sent a personal letter of congratulations by the American.

When the USA were crushed by Europe in the Ryder Cup in Paris in October 2018, many were inspired by the good-hearted manner in which American captain Furyk took his side's defeat.

Here was a man who encapsulated the lessons taught to all competitive young kids when they are growing up - that it is not the winning, it is about the taking part.

Malcolm Read, an amateur golfer from Staffordshire who was in the United States at the time, was so inspired that he wrote to 2003 US Open champion Furyk to personally express his admiration.

Furyk got back in touch, and the exchange that followed led to Read's club, the 3 Hammers just outside Wolverhampton, setting up an award for sportsmanship in Furyk's name.

The first recipient of the Jim Furyk Award for Sportsmanship was chosen; 14-year-old Jensen Berridge, a six-handicapper who plays for Staffordshire, won the award for all of the time he had spent volunteering and mentoring juniors at the club.

And, in early March, Furyk wrote a personal letter congratulating Jensen.

Sadly, it was just before the coronavirus lockdown and, while the course was closed, the letter arrived and remained there unopened.

But, when the course reopened in June and they went through two months of post, they found the letter - and the club handed it over, as well as the prize itself, which is to become an annual award at the club.

A lovely touch of class from Jim, and a lovely surprise for Jensen.

Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn
Jim Furyk's USA team were beaten 17½-10½ by Thomas Bjorn's Europe at the 2018 Ryder Cup

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