Zakki Blatt, an 18-year-old member of The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia who has overcome a congenital heart defect and a stroke, has been named the male winner of the Achiever of the Year award presented by the national First Tee organization and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Blatt, of Philadelphia, one of 10 nominees for the award, received the honor Wednesday night at the annual awards banquet in San Francisco, site of the U.S. Open. He will receive a $15,000 scholarship.
Blatt, who is home-schooled, was born with a congenital heart defect. The stroke left him with full use of one arm and one leg, and he required oxygen for 24 hours a day. Doctors told him he would need a lung and heart transplant.
According to John MacDonald, executive director of The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, Blatt started watching the Golf Channel during his daily trips to cardiac rehabilitation and found that golf interested him. Two years ago, he joined TFT, learning to play despite his physical challenges.