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Alumnus tees up scholarship honoring Athens golf legend

Monday, November 20 2017 12:00am

An Ohio University alumnus and his wife have created a new scholarship fund to give greater opportunity to sports administration students while honoring one of Athens’ greatest sports icons.

Kenny Kerr III, BSJ ’75, and his wife, Teri, established the Dow and Linda Finsterwald Sports Management Scholarship to celebrate the life and career of Dow Finsterwald, AB ’52, who joined the PGA after graduating, eventually winning the PGA Championship in 1958.

“The scholarship will assist with funds for students who are looking to intern with the PGA Tour over the summer,” OHIO AECOM Center for Sports Administration Executive Director Jim Kahler said. “We send students out to work with the PGA Tour and Championship … It’s the championship that Dow Finsterwald won, and it’s our way of carrying on his legacy while engaging the students.”

The Kerr family has supported OHIO’s sports administration program for more than 40 years. With the program celebrating its 50thanniversary last year, Kerr found that it was an ideal time to honor his friend and mentor.

"Dow is one of the most internationally celebrated people from this area, and he would come back often to Athens to be at the country club. Dow was just our guy,” Kerr said.

Finsterwald grew up in Athens, spending much of his time at the Athens Country Club. After playing golf at OHIO, he racked up 11 PGA Tour wins, played on four Ryder Cup teams, and was named PGA Player of the Year in 1958, the season he took top place at the PGA Championship.

But as he found success, Finsterwald remained connected to his Athens roots.

“Dow was a mentor for young aspiring golfers back then in Athens and continues to be today,” Kerr said. “He was very polite, very kind, and encouraging to me. He is a like a father-figure to me.”

On September 25, 1958, Athenians gathered at the Athens Country Club to celebrate Finsterwald for his PGA Championship victory, commemorating the date as Dow Finsterwald Day.

To help celebrate the day, Finsterwald invited his friendly competitors Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to play their first competitive event together. The iconic rivalry between Palmer and Nicklaus began when they teed up together at the Athens Country Club.

Finsterwald and Palmer would return to Athens several more times, before both moving to Orlando, Florida, where they happened to live next door to one another.

“Teri and I believe it is our honor to begin a scholarship to salute all that Dow and Linda Finsterwald have done for Ohio University and anyone and everyone they have touched,” Kerr said. “This is a salute to their family as they all do so much for many wherever they may be.”