Stephanie Meadow claims Professional Player of the Year award
Northern Irishwoman recovered from serious injury to regain her full LPGA Tour card
Stephanie Meadow: showed fortitude and resilience in returning from serious injury. Photograph: Photograph: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
The hashtag of #invincible could have been invented for Stephanie Meadow, who let actions speak louder than words with her endeavours on tour this past season.
And the 26-year-old’s fortitude and resilience in returning from serious injury to regain her full LPGA Tour card for next season has earned her the Professional Player of the Year award for 2018 (sponsored by Allianz) from the Irish Golf Writers’ Association.
Meadow, 26, is the first woman to win the award since its inception in 1976.
The Northern Irishwoman suffered a stress fracture (L5) in her spine during the 2017 season, but the diagnosis came too late for her to avail of a medical exemption on the LPGA Tour. Meadow underwent spinal surgery and endured over four months of rehabilitation through the winter months only to resurface with renewed determination in 2018.
Playing on the Symetra Tour, Meadow won the IOA Championship, had nine top-10s during the year and claimed a full LPGA Tour card for next season by finishing sixth on the order of merit.
“I am so honoured and so humbled to have won the Professional Golfer of the Year. I was knocked on my face a little bit last year and to come out and have such a great season and to top it off by being recognised as the Irish Professional Golfer of the Year is truly remarkable.
“I have a lot of people to thank, because it is not just me who got me here. To the ILGU. Girls’ golf has come a long way in the last 10 years and to win this award on behalf of them is unbelievable. The ILGU’s training programmes have made me the golfer I am today.
“I have a lot of people in my corner who I would like to thank. My coaches, my sports psychologist, my fitness trainer who made me healthy again and my family and close friends, who picked me up this past year and got me through it,” said Meadow.
Robin Dawson received the Men’s Amateur Player of the Year award at the dinner in Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links Thursday night.
His recognition followed a standout season in which the 22-year-old Waterford man captured the FloGas Irish Amateur Open Championship in May, finished runner-up in the British Amateur Championship and was second in the European Amateur Championship.
Dawson, an equine business graduate from NUI Maynooth, turned professional following the World Amateur Team Championship in September and has earned his card for the Challenge Tour for the 2019 season.
Sara Byrne, 17, won the Irish Ladies’ Close Championship at Enniscrone and also finished runner-up in the Leinster Women’s Open Championship. The Douglas, Co Cork, teenager represented Ireland in the World Junior Championship, the European Girls’ Team Championship, the Home International Girls’ Championship and topped the ILGU Girls’ Order of Merit.
The Distinguished Services to Golf award was presented to Miriam Hand, who is the driving force behind the “Play in Pink” charitable initiative to raise funds in aid of Breast Cancer Research.
The initiative has gone from strength to strength in recent years, raising more than €600,000 since 2011. In 2018 alone, in excess of €160,000 was raised at events throughout the country.