The Texas Golf Association announced the 2007 Players of the Year in their respective categories. They are Tom McGraw (Senior), Rob Couture (North Region), and Jonathan Mathias (South Region). In the race for Statewide Player of the Year, Terrence Miskell and Trip Kuehne ended up tied atop the leader board and will share the honor.
The Player of the Year awards are presented annually to the individual(s) who accumulate the most performance points throughout the calendar year in each category. Players earn points based on top finishes in designated TGA and USGA competitions.
It seems only fitting that Terrence Miskell of New Braunfels and Irving’s Trip Kuehne should complete the season tied with 290 points and share TGA Statewide Player of the Year honors. After all, back in May they partnered up to win the State Four-Ball at the Horseshoe Bay Resort. They joined forces again (with the addition of Jonathan Mathias for good measure) in September to lead Texas to victory in the USGA State Men’s Team Championship at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands. It is the first time since the awards started that Co-Players of the Year have been named and clearly demonstrated that there are a number of different ways to accumulate points.
Having captured four state titles in 2007 (two individual, two team), as well as bringing home his third Statewide Player of the Year title in the last four years, Miskell, 40, might need to rent some outside storage space to display all his new trophies.
He kicked the season off by pairing up with fellow Dos Rios Golf Club members, Ken Lawrence and David Pfeuffer, to capture the State Club Team in March at The Club of Comanche Trace in Kerrville, the first statewide event of the year. Two months after that Miskell and Kuehne captured the State Four-Ball.
After another spirited run at the Texas Amateur (a tie for fourth) at Whispering Pines GC the first week of June, Miskell went on a tear two weeks later at the State Public Links, winning medalist honors in the stroke play qualifying as well as the overall championship by defeating Beau Willis of Weatherford in the finals at Sky Creek Ranch GC in Keller. Miskell capped off his remarkable season by firing rounds of 73-67-69 for a seven-under 209 total and a two-shot victory in the State Mid-Amateur Championship at Miramont CC in Bryan.
While Miskell was stacking up Texas Golf Association titles, Trip Kuehne, aside from his Four-Ball victory with Miskell, earned the majority of his points in USGA events. If pressed, Kuehne would probably admit to having mixed feelings about his play in the early part of the summer. The highs of qualifying for two of the biggest championships on the USGA schedule, the U.S. Open at Oakmont (his fourth appearance) and the U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club, were offset by the lows of missing the 36-hole cut in each. But things got better later in the year, much better in fact.
Kuehne, 35, was part of the USA Walker Cup squad that defeated GB&I, 12½ to 11½, at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland from September 8-9. Fast forward eleven days and he was at The Woodlands putting the finishing touches on a nifty five-under par 67 final round that helped his Texas teammates defend their U.S. Men’s State Team Championship title. Armed with a great deal of confidence, Kuehne then traveled to Bend, Oregon, from September 29 – October 4 for the U.S. Mid-Amateur. He was one of six co-medalists in the stroke play qualifying and steadily advanced through match play, eventually meeting Dan Whitaker in the 36-hole final. Kuehne played superbly and dominated the match, winning 9 & 7, and put an exclamation point on a stellar year.
The Senior Player Of The Year award was essentially a two-man battle between 2006 honoree Tom McGraw of Montgomery and Mike Arnold of Windcrest. Even though Arnold captured the State Senior Amateur on the Gold Course at Dallas Athletic Club in August, it was McGraw’s consistent play throughout the year in a variety of competitions that enabled him to pass Arnold and claim his second consecutive Player of the Year title.
McGraw, 56, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Senior Amateur, and U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2007. He missed the 36-hole cut in the Senior Open, but made match play in both the U.S. Senior Amateur and Mid-Amateur where he lost in the second and first rounds, respectively. He finished strong in the State Senior Amateur (tied for 3rd) and was also in the starting field for this year’s Texas Amateur. When the final points were tallied at the end of the season, McGraw finished with 180, besting Arnold by 55.
Last year Rob Couture of Dallas finished fourth in the battle for Player of the Year and by most everyone’s reckoning it was only a matter of time before his name was engraved on the trophy. Well, the prediction came true sooner rather than later, as Couture amassed 179 points – 31 clear of two-time winner Steve Galko of Dallas – to claim the 2007 North Regional Player of the Year honor.
Couture, 32, began stockpiling points early with a runner-up finish at the North Amateur at Woodbridge CC in Wylie. He increased his total at the West Texas Amateur at Abilene CC with a tie for eighth. He then shot 68-68-73 to win the North Mid-Amateur by one over Aaron Hickman at Texas Star GC in Euless, closing the door for good on any would-be contenders for this year’s honor.
The song remains the same down south, but it’s likely that Jonathan Mathias of San Antonio hasn’t grown tired of the chorus. For the third consecutive year Mathias, 34, has been named the South Regional Player of the Year. Looking back over his reign, what’s a little surprising is that he has only captured one regional title – the 2005 South Amateur. (It should be noted, however, that he has enjoyed a good deal of success on the statewide level, winning the 2006 Mid-Amateur and 2007 Mid-Amateur Match Play.)
But what’s not a surprise, especially to his fellow competitors, is that Mathias is seldom out of the top five, which accounts for the methodical way he racks up points. He started off his 2007 campaign by teaming up with Randy Lance for a fifth place finish in the South Four-Ball at River Ridge in Sealy. Next up was the South Amateur at Magnolia Creek in League City where he finished third.
Notice a trend here?
At the final event of the year, the South Mid-Amateur held on the Tradition Course at Cypresswood in Spring, Mathias fired rounds of 75-72-70 to finish in a tie for fourth, 3-shots back of champion John Dowdall of Houston.
Mathias finished the year with 137.5 points, a slim 9.34 points ahead of runner-up Dowdall.
--Story courtesy TGA