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Wednesday, 01 June 2011 20:19

Presented to men’s golfer overcoming adversity to achieve collegiate excellence

STILLWATER, Okla. – Justin Lower of Malone has been named recipient of the David Toms Award. The Toms Award is presented to a men’s collegiate golfer who has overcome adversity to achieve collegiate excellence.

“I want to congratulate Justin for overcoming so much in his life both on and off the golf course,” said Toms. “I know he has been a great inspiration for both his teammates and his classmates and he certainly has a bright future ahead. He has had to show a lot of maturity at an early age, and I’m proud that he is winning an award named after me.”

The night before Easter in 2005, Lower’s father, Tim, was involved in a car accident on the way to pick Justin up from the golf course where he was practicing. His father lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into a telephone pole. The car flipped and landed upside down, killing Lower’s younger brother, Chris, instantly. His father - who was intoxicated at the time of the accident - died shortly thereafter.

Lower - who turned 16 the week after the accident - lost his will to do almost any activities after the accident. His life was not the same and all felt meaningless - except the drive to play golf.

Lower believes in some ways that golf saved him at that moment in his life. While he felt that by playing golf he could keep his father’s memory alive and continue the dream that they shared of Lower competing at a high level, he also realized that his father and brother would not be there to share in this dream. That dream was for Justin to some day compete on the PGA TOUR. His father was his coach. Tim - with Chris following closely behind - would attend every one of Justin’s tournaments. In his first tournament after the passing of his father and brother, Lower searched the gallery for their faces. While they were not there physically, Lower felt their presence as he posted a bogey-free 64 and won the event by seven shots.

The will to focus on academics, however, continued to be a challenge. As a result his grades suffered and despite claiming the OHSSAA Division II State Championship, no college programs recruited Lower. Shortly before graduation a friend suggested Lower attend Malone University. Lower had met the school’s golf coach - Ken Hyland - when he was younger and he decided to give the coach a call. Hyland offered Lower a chance.

Lower felt his opportunity at Malone was a sign that better days were ahead. The accident caused him to question his faith but while at Malone Lower turned his life over to Jesus Christ and radically transformed his life.

Despite the events in his life Lower truly feels blessed. He believes the choices he’s made since the accident have shaped him into who is today. The ordeal has taught him how to deal with adversity and the virtue of patience in his life. Lower credits his mother, his college coach and close friends with helping to turn around his life.

Lower excelled on the Golf course for Malone, claiming medalist honors at the NAIA Championships in 2010 as well as being selected as the NAIA’s Jack Nicklaus Award recipient as player of the year that same season. Despite his earlier academic struggles Lower became the first member of his family to graduate from college.

“I am very humbled and honored to be named the David Toms award winner for 2011,” said Lower. “It is another reminder of why I play the game of golf, for them and a dream that we shared.”

 
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