Gene Elliott (YouTube screenshot)
In his second year as a senior competitor, Gene Elliott
of W. Des Moines, Iowa is the AmateurGolf.com Senior Player of the Year.
The AmateurGolf.com Senior Player of the Year is awarded based on a point system earned through performance in major senior events throughout the course of the year. This year, the 56-year-old Elliott won five tournaments and finished in the top three of four others.
Last year, Elliott won four times and was a constant presence on senior amateur leaderboards, but ultimately finished as runner-up in the senior points race to three-time Senior POY Doug Hanzel
of Savannah, Ga.
Related: The 2017 AGC Senior Player of the Year: Doug Hanzel
Related: AmateurGolf.com Feature Interview: Gene Elliott
Players of the Year
Elliott skipped much of the Florida swing that annually kicks off the senior amateur season, but won his first individual tournament of the year in March, holding off Mark Nickerson by one shot at the Jones Cup Senior
in St. Simons Island, Ga.
He picked up his second win in June, leading all the way at the George C. Thomas Senior
at L.A. Country Club, and clearing the field by five shots.
In August, Elliott traveled to Pinehurst and took the Golfweek Senior Match Play
at the Dormie Club, rolling through the field and never reaching the 17th hole in any of his matches.
Elliott's fourth win of the season came in September at the prestigious Crump Cup Senior
at Pine Valley, where he became just the fourth player to win the open division (2013) and the senior division in the tournament’s 94-year history.
His final win of the season was at the Golfweek Senior Tournament of Champions in Lecanto, Fla., coming from behind and pulling away from the field in the final round for a four-shot win
at the Quarry Course at Black Diamond Ranch.
In addition to his five wins, Elliott contended in several other major events. He was runner-up in the George Coleman Senior at Seminole Golf Club in Florida, as well as the National Senior Hall of Fame in North Carolina.
He had success overseas this summer, finishing third in the British Senior Amateur at Royal Porthcawl in Wales, and successfully qualifying for the British Senior Open
. Elliott came very close but ultimately just missed the cut at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
He also finished third in the Canadian Senior Amateur, fifth at the Golfweek Player-of-the-Year Classic, sixth at the Gasparilla Senior, and made the final 16 at the U.S. Senior Amateur at his namesake Eugene Country Club in Oregon.
Elliott's competitiveness won't let him be satisfied even with the great season he had in 2018, and will surely set a goal of making a deeper run at the 2019 U.S. Senior at Old Chatham in North Carolina.
Final Senior POY Points Standings, 2018
|1 ||Gene Elliott||W. Des Moines,
|2 ||Brady Exber||Las Vegas, NV||4600|
|3 ||Jack Hall||Savannah, GA||4575|
|4 ||Allen Peake||Macon, GA||4175|
|5 ||Doug Hanzel||Savannah, GA||3650|
|6 ||Mark Knecht||Paducah, KY||3375|
|7 ||Mike McCoy||W. Des Moines, IA||3300|
|8 ||Jeff Wilson||Fairfield, CA||2900|
|9 ||Peter DeTemple||Lex. Park, MD||2800|
|10 ||Steve Humphrey||Lexington, KY||2700|
Finishing as the runner-up to Elliott was Brady Exber of Las Vegas, who won three times in his best season since 2014 when he was the AGC Senior Player of the Year. Three Georgians -- Jack Hall of Savannah, Allen Peake of Savannah, and Hanzel -- rounded out the top five of the POY points standings.
Jeff Wilson, who captured the U.S. Senior Amateur and was the low amateur at the U.S. Senior Open, finished 8th in the standings.
Last year in his first year as a senior Elliott played a full schedule nationally but also played a lot at home, winning four Iowa state titles and being named the Iowa Senior Player of the Year. This year, his focus was more on the national senior circuit.
When asked to describe his game, Elliott pointed to his wedge and iron game as particular strengths, and as his putter has warmed up the wins have mounted. But even more evident is his fierce competitiveness -- he describes himself as a "chip on the shoulder" type of competitor who stays driven even after decades of being in the arena.
Look for 2019 to be another big year for Elliott. They say winning is a habit, and for the 2018 AGC Player of the Year, the habit seems to be pretty ingrained.
AmateurGolf.com Senior Rankings
| Complete 2018 Points List (479 players)