Roberts, Castle, Campbell, Harper, Caudill earn state golf honors

Kentucky Golf Association names honorees
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Press Release/WTVQ)Five golfers are the recipients of the Kentucky Golf Association Player of the Year awards following the 2021 tournament season. Jensen Castle, Tom Campbell, Phillip Harper, and Jim Caudill each have won one title while Andy Roberts has claimed two.
Roberts receives both the John Owens Player of the Year (top male player of any age) and the Herb McGuire Mid-Senior Player of the Year (top male between the ages of 40-49). The Owensboro product won at his home course of Country Club of Owensboro in July to capture the Kentucky Match Play Championship, which secured Roberts of at least one victory in each of the state’s premier individual competitions open to amateur golfers (Kentucky Open, Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Amateur, Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Mid-Am). Alongside Matt Epperson at Kearney Hill Golf Links, Roberts also claimed victory in the Kentucky Team Championship in May. Several other top finishes such as a top-three in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Mid-Am and advancing through U.S. Open Local Qualifying led to Roberts earning both these titles, which amounts to his fourth John Owens Award and second straight Herb McGuire Award.

“Winning Player of the Year is a big honor,” Roberts said. “To win two of them in the same year is pretty cool as well. Winning the State Match Play this year to complete the resume of amateur events in Kentucky was pretty fulfilling as it was the one event that had eluded me. I just felt like it was a very consistent year. It all came together at the Match Play, but I had many other positive things working as well in other events. Going forward, I just want to try and build off all that’s happened this year.”

Click here to view the final John Owens Player of the Year standings
Click here to view the final Herb McGuire Player of the Year standings

Jensen Castle, a junior at the University of Kentucky, is the Women’s Player of the Year by a considerable margin as she earned more than twice as many points as her closest pursuer in the standings. Her victory in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August was much of the reason for her commanding claim to this honor, as her triumph as the 63 seed at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York became perhaps the story of the year in Kentucky golf. Castle’s victory in New York marked the first time an active or former University of Kentucky golfer had won either the U.S. Women’s Amateur or U.S. Men’s Amateur. It was also one of three USGA championship appearances Castle had throughout the year, as she competed in the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. The success also led to her representing the United States at the Curtis Cup in Wales in addition to making her first start on the LPGA Tour when she teed it up in the Cognizant Founders Cup in October.

“This year has been unforgettable,” Castle relayed. “I am so grateful to be a part of the Kentucky family. The support I have received is unbelievable. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my teammates, my coaches and everyone who has helped me get to where I am. To be the KGA’s Women’s Player of the Year is a special honor. I have never been a player of the year in South Carolina (Castle’s birthplace) and that had always been a goal of mine. So, this honor means the world to me. Moving forward, in upcoming tournaments, my goal is to enjoy every opportunity I get to tee the ball up and realize how blessed I am to get to do what I love surrounded by people I love every day.”

Click here to view the final Women’s Player of the Year standings

Tom Campbell is the Tom Musselman Senior Player of the Year (top male between the ages of 50-59) for the second straight season following a year of consistent play resulting in high finishes against both seniors and non-seniors. Campbell finished joint runner-up in both the Kentucky Senior Open and Kentucky Senior Amateur, solo second among all seniors in Golf House Kentucky Classic #2, and finished in the top-ten at the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Mid-Am. But perhaps the most impressive result Campbell earned was a T23 in the Kentucky Open where he was the low senior. A solid total score of 218 (+3) that week earned Campbell a finish better than that of many current college golfers as well as active or former mini-tour players.

“I’m honored to again be the Tom Musselman Player of the Year,” Campbell stated. “It was one of my goals starting this season – to play well enough across the season to be named this winner. I still haven’t won one of the senior majors, but this award says that I’m close. My greatest accomplishment of the season was my T23 at the Kentucky Open. At age 51, that went beyond my expectations. To be able to play with and compete against both amateurs and professionals at a high level says I still have a little juice left in the tank. I putted really well this summer after changing back to a pencil grip in May. It gave me a lot more confidence on the greens. My short game from 100 yards and in has always been one of my biggest strengths and it was again this past season. In 2022, I want to win one of those senior majors, this award, and continue trying to compete with the junior circuit. I would like to thank those who have supported me as a player and a person this season and beyond. I’d also like to thank Tyler Chilson and Callaway Golf. Tyler’s support has helped me play at the highest level possible and has greatly contributed to this award.”

Click here to view the final Tom Musselman Player of the Year standings

Phillip Harper of Falmouth was named one of the KGA Am Series Players of the Year in September and has followed that with the Dale Barnstable Player of the Year title (top male between the ages of 60-69). Harper’s performance in Am Series tournaments was at a high level as he won at Pendleton Hills and notched runner-up finishes in the events at Oxmoor Country Club and Hunting Creek Country Club. He also earned a top-three finish in the Masters Division at the Kentucky Senior Amateur and finished runner-up in the Kentucky Senior Team Championship alongside his teammate and brother, James.

“I am happy and proud to be the 2021 Dale Barnstable Player of the Year,” Harper announced. “In 2018, I had two failed back surgeries and thought my golf career might be over. But after spinal fusion surgery in 2019, I’ve been able to play some more. To compete and play at this level has been wonderful – I feel truly blessed.”

Click here to view the final Dale Barnstable Player of the Year standings

The final Player of the Year within the KGA for the season is Jim Caudill of Morehead, who like Harper, also earned an Am Series Player of the Year crown earlier in the year. Caudill is the Don Smith Player of the Year (top male aged 70 or older) off the strength of three victories in eight KGA starts. He won the Am Series tournaments at Frankfort Country Club and Pendleton Hills, but his year was highlighted by winning the Legends Division at the Kentucky Senior Amateur. A four-shot victory at University of Louisville Golf Club where he was the only player from any of the three divisions to finish the tournament with an under-par score became one of the most impressive accomplishments from the KGA’s season.

“I have enjoyed playing in KGA events this past year,” Caudill summarized. “Many great venues were used, and I want to thank the KGA and its Member Clubs for hosting these events. Playing away from your home course always gives you a challenge and competing with other players from around the state certainly tests your game. I am very proud to be the Don Smith Player of the Year for 2021 as it is always a goal at the beginning of the year for me and will be again in 2022. My most memorable tournament was the Senior Amateur and my under-par total for that two-day event. My driver was my best club that week and all year, as hitting a high percentage of fairways always makes the game easier.”

Click here to view the final Don Smith Player of the Year standings

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