The Golf Journalists Association of Canada, a group of 60 golf media members of which I’m part, today announced its top Canadian players for 2009. Some interesting results:
George Knudson Award for Best Male Professional of the Year:
DeLaet split his time in 2009 between the South African Sunshine Tour and the Canadian Tour. He won the BMG Cup on the Sunshine Tour and also recorded a pair of runner-up finishes. On the Canadian Tour Graham had two victories (ATB Financial Classic and The Players Cup) to go along with a handful of Top 10 finishes that led to him winning the Canadian Tour Order of Merit. DeLaet capped off his excellent season by representing Canada at The World Cup in China, then played his way onto the PGA Tour for 2010 with an 8th place finish at the third and final stage of PGA Tour qualifying school.
Runner-up: Stephen Ames, Calgary, Alberta
Sandra Post Award for Best Female Professional of the Year:
Lisa Meldrum of Montreal is awarded the Sandra Post Award for 2009 based on her best year yet in professional golf. With a victory at the iMPACT Classic on the Duramed FUTURES Tour as well as two other Top 10 finishes, Meldrum finished 15th on the Tours Order of Merit. The former three-time Canadian Amateur Champion then finished fifth at the LPGA Tour qualifying school earning her full exempt status on the Tour in 2010.
Runner-up: Samantha Richdale, Kelowna, BC
Gary Cowan Award for Best Male Amateur of the Year:
Matt Hill gets the nod for the Gary Cowan Award by virtue of his record breaking NCAA national championship season. Playing at North Carolina State, the young gun from Forest, Ontario tallied eight college wins this year, including six in a row, shattering a record previously held by Tiger Woods. Hill also won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the NCAAs top golfer and during the season was ranked as the #2 Amateur in the world. Matt was a member of Canadas championship Four Nations Cup squad, claimed the Ontario Amateur Championship and placed third at the Canadian Amateur Championship.
Runner-up: Nick Taylor, Abbotsford, BC
Marlene Streit Award for Best Female Amateur of the Year:
Not since 1951 has a Canadian Junior golfer had the kind of year that Jennifer Kirby had in 2009. With victories at the Ontario Junior, Canadian Junior, Ontario Amateur and Canadian Amateur Championships, Kirby dominated golf at the highest level for both women and junior girls in Canada this past year. Adding to her impressive accomplishments, Kirby also won the prestigious Toronto Star Womens Amateur and the CN Future Links Pacific Championship. Jennifers victories mirrored the accomplishments of Canadian and World Golf Hall of Fame member Marlene Stewart Streit who won the Ontario Junior, Ontario Amateur, Canadian Ladies Open Amateur and Canadian Ladies Close Amateur Championships as a 17-year old in 1951.
Runner-up: Sue Kim, Langley, BC
Interesting to see my peers voted as I did on DeLaet — listing him as the top Canadian, despite the fact Stephen Ames won on the PGA Tour and Mike Weir had another solid year that included a spot on the Presidents Cup team. I still think DeLaet is the breakthrough of the year — and he did win on multiple tours. Matt Hill is a tricky one — as I voted for Nick Taylor, who was the top ranked amateur for a stretch of the year and performed exceptionally well in the US Open. Does that eclipse Hill’s astounding six wins in a row on the NCAA? Tough to say.
On the women’s side Kirby was a lock and the selection of Meldrum is more reflective of her future — and of the grim state of professional women’s golf in Canada — than it is of her play in 2009.