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Announcing the CGA Tufts Players of the Year

 

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (January 11, 2019) -- The Carolinas have a lot to be proud of in 2018. Several Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) members made a splash both on the local level and on the national and international stages.

Related: Past Champions

The CGA is proud to announce the 2018 recipients of the Richard S. Tufts Players of the Year Awards:

 

Junior Girls’
Katherine Schuster - Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
 
Junior Boys’
Jonathan Griz - Hilton Head, S.C.
 
Women’s
Anna Redding - Concord, N.C.
 
Men’s
Kevin O’Connell - Cary, N.C.
Senior Women’s
Lea Anne Brown - Charleston, S.C.
 
Senior Men’s
Paul Simson - Raleigh, N.C.
 
Super Senior Men’s
Russ Perry - Winston-Salem, N.C.

 

2018 Richard S. Tufts Award Winners

 

JUNIOR GIRLS'

Katherine Schuster of Kill Devil Hills, N.C., captured her first Junior Girls’ Player of the Year award after a year that was headlined by winning the National Championship (Girls 14-15) at the Drive, Chip and Putt at Augusta National.

 

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. It’s a big deal and I am very very grateful to be the Carolinas Player of the Year,” Schuster said. “I am really humbled and honored to have received the award.”

 

Schuster’s other victories in 2018 included the Hope Valley Junior Invitational, the NCHSAA - Girls’ 1A/2A State Championship, the Carolinas Junior PGA Championship and the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls’ Golf Tour Orange Whip Classic.

 

Schuster’s year included other great achievements like playing for the Carolinas Team at the Mid-Atlantic Girls’ Challenge Matches, qualifying for the Girls Junior PGA Championship and The U.S. Girls' Junior Championship.

 

“I just love playing,” Schuster said. “Every single time I am on the course I love it. I am just going to give it all I got, keep practicing, digging deep and wanting it. For 2019 I’m just going to keep focusing on school and do the things that I need to succeed.”

 

Schuster is a member of the 2021 graduating class and has verbally committed to play college golf at Clemson University.

 

 

JUNIOR BOYS'

Jonathan Griz of Hilton Head, S.C., captured both the Carolinas Junior Boys’ Player of the Year and the South Carolina Junior Player of the Year, but has his sights set even higher in 2019.

 

“It’s such an honor to be named the Carolinas Player of the Year,” Griz said. “It was one of my goals at the start of 2018 and to be able to accomplish it is a really good feeling because I work really hard at this. It gives me the confidence to go forward and hopefully be the number one junior in the world in 2019.”



His list of accolades in 2018 include winning the Bobby Chapman Jr. Invitational, the Hilton Head Island Amateur, the Carolinas Junior PGA Championship and bevy of wins and top finishes in several other regional and national events. Griz was also able to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur and advanced to the match play portion of that event.

 

His goals for 2019 are lofty but not unrealistic for a player of his talents. Not only does Griz hope to become the number one junior amateur golfer in the world this year, but he hopes to make the Junior President’s Cup Team, qualify for the U.S. Open and of course, win the Carolinas Player of the Year again.

 

 

WOMEN'S

Anna Redding of Concord, N.C. dominated the CGA women’s circuit last summer with wins at both the Carolinas Women’s Amateur Championship and the Carolinas Women’s Match Play Championship.

 

“It was an incredible feeling and I am really excited to become the player of the year,” Redding said. “About halfway through the summer I thought this would be a great goal to accomplish and I was really happy I made it happen."

 

Redding led the Cavaliers to a team title at the Mary Fossum Invitational and captured her first individual title of her college career. In September, Redding was named the ACC Player of the Month.

 

Redding, a senior at UVA, will play her last rounds as an amateur in the first half of 2019 and look to become a professional in the latter part of the year.

 

“By the end of 2019, I’m hoping to turn professional,” Redding said. “I have some great support systems to make it happen.”

 

 

MEN'S

Kevin O’Connell of Cary, N.C., captured his first CGA Men’s Player of the Year award after an incredible year headlined by a win at the USGA’s Mid-Amateur Championship in Charlotte, N.C.

 

“Having played all my junior golf and the beginning part of my reinstated amateur career in the Carolinas, to be named player of the year is and honor and one that I have not had before,” O’Connell said. “I have gotten close with Scott Harvey recently and look up to what he’s done in the game. To be named player of the year as he has so many times is a wonderful accomplishment and caps off a year to remember.”

 

O’Connell’s credits his first win of 2108 at the Monroe Invitational, to giving him the confidence that would propel him through the year. He also had strong finishes at several CGA Championships including a tie for 3rd at the N.C. Mid-Amateur, a tie for 4th at the Carolinas Mid-Amateur and a tie for 25th at the Carolinas Amateur.

 

O’Connell’s win at the U.S. Mid-Amateur gained him entry into the 2019 Masters and U.S. Open. This winter he moved to Jacksonville, Florida with his wife Michelle to prepare his game in a more consistent climate.

 

 

SENIOR WOMEN'S

Lea Anne Brown of Charleston, S.C., made history by capturing her first Senior Women’s Player of the Year honor along with South Carolina Women’s Player of the Year given by the Women's South Carolina Golf Association.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” Brown said. “In December, I went on the Carolinas (Golf Association) website to see the 2019 schedule and figure out which tournaments to play. There was a little link to the player of the year so I clicked on it. When I saw my name at the top, I hit refresh because I figured it had to be page two of the list. Then when I saw it was still there I was so excited. Then of course, I saw how close it was and I figured all the points hadn’t been totalled yet. Still, I was hoping that was correct...it was.”

 

One major highlight of Brown’s year came in the latter part of the season at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach, Florida. After qualifying for the event, she decided to track down the caddie she used in the 2010 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, Jerry Keiser. Brown won her first match against Martha Leach but ultimately lost in the round of 32. Brown gives Keiser’s guidance and green-reading skills a lot of credit for her success at the event.

 

“Overall, the second half of the year went great,” Brown said. “I owe it to my caddie for getting me to the round of 32 without a doubt.”

 

Brown also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis, Mo., finished tied for 5th at the 2018 Carolinas Senior Women’s Amateur and 5th at the 2018 WSCGA Senior Championship.

 

Brown said her biggest goal for 2019 is to qualify for the 2nd U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C. She also hopes to qualify for both the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and the U.S. Senior Amateur again this year. 

 

 

SENIOR MEN'S

Paul Simson of Raleigh, N.C. wins his tenth Senior Men’s Player of the Year award; another CGA record.

 

“It’s always an honor to be the CGA Player of the Year,” Simson said. “It’s basically a vote of confidence from playing well in CGA and national events.”

 

Simson added to his tally of CGA victories this year with a win at the N.C. Super Senior Championship, the Carolinas Super Senior Championship and the Carolinas Super Senior Four-Ball Championship.  His 36 victories in CGA championships is the most all-time.

 

Simson’s highlight of the year on the international stage came at the British Senior Amateur where he finished tied for 11th. On the national level, Simson made it to the round of 16 in the U.S. Senior Amateur. He also qualified for the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Amateur.

 

“Amateuer golf is obvioulsy not about the compesation,” Simson said. “It’s about the people you meet and the places you get to go.”

 

In his career, Simson has won over 200 titles, two U.S. Senior Amateurs (2010, '12) and claimed three Seniors Amateur titles (2006, '08, '10), conducted by The R&A. Simson is also a two-time CGA Men's Player of the Year winner (2005 & 2008) and the 2017 CGA Super Senior Men’s Player of the Year.

 

SUPER SENIOR MEN'S

Russ Perry of Winston-Salem, N.C. captured his first Super Senior Player of the Year honors with a barrage of first and second place finishes throughout 2018.

 

His season kicked off with a win at the 2018 North Carolina Super Senior Four-Ball Championship with his partner, Mark Stephens of Troutman, N.C. The win brought Perry’s lifetime total CGA titles to six.

 

“It always gets you off to a good start to win your first tournament of the year,” Perry said. “I practice an awful lot and work a lot on my game. It goes to show that it does pay off.”

 

Perry also won the 2018 National Senior Hall of Fame Super Senior, tied for first at the CPGA Summer Shootout Prestwick Super Senior and the CPGA Wilmington Senior Open Super Senior. He also had four other second place finishes including the Carolinas Super Senior.

 

Perry said his main goal for 2019 is to make the Captain’s Putter Carolinas Team.

 

“If I am able to accomplish that I know I’ve done well throughout the course of the year,” Perry said.

 

He also hopes to play in the U.S. Senior Amateur at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C.; A course Perry said he is very familiar with.

 

About the Richard S. Tufts Awards

The Richard S. Tufts Awards were created in 1997 to honor the Carolinas amateur golfers who had exceptional individual tournament performances over the preceding year. Tufts served on the CGA Executive Committee from 1926 to 1964 and served as President from 1931 through 1933. The awards are given to the top golfer based on the CGA amateur rankings at the end of the calendar year in five of seven categories: Women's, Men's, Senior Women's, Senior Men’s and Super Senior Men's. The Senior Men's and Senior Women's categories were implemented in 2001, while the Super Senior Men's award was created in 2017.

 

The Junior Girls' and Junior Boys’ awards, started in 2003, are based on a series of tournaments run by associations that are the grassroots of junior golf in the Carolinas. Participating Carolinas associations and tournaments are the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA), Carolinas PGA (CPGA), Trusted Choice Big I Junior Classics, South Carolina Golf Association (SCGA), Women's South Carolina Golf Association (WSCGA), South Carolina Junior Golf Association (SCJGA), Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA), Carolinas-Georgia Junior Championship and the Joe Cheves Junior Invitational.

 

Award winners will be honored during Carolinas Golf Night and the CGA Annual Meeting at Forest Lake Club in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday, February 9, 2019.

 

Eight Carolinas Men's Players of the Year are current or former PGA Tour members while six Carolinas Women's Players of the Year have competed on the LPGA TOUR. Notable past Tufts award winners include: Jonathan Byrd (1999, PGA Tour), Beth Bauer (1999, LPGA), D.J. Trahan (2000-2002, PGA Tour), Marcy Newton Hart (2000, LPGA), Brandi Jackson (2002, LPGA), Bill Haas (2003, PGA Tour), Webb Simpson (2006, PGA Tour), Dustin Johnson (2007, PGA Tour), Cydney Clanton (2009-10, LPGA), Mark Anderson (2009, PGA Tour), Austin Ernst (2011, LPGA), and Katelyn Dambaugh (2016, LPGA).

Jonathan Griz Photo: John Byrum
Kathrine Schuster Photo: Drive, Chip & Putt
Kevin O'Connell Photo: USGA



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