Rusty Strawn at the U.S. Senior Amateur (USGA photo)
After one of the most dominating years since we have been giving out this award, Rusty Strawn
of McDonough, Ga., is the 2022 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, after two straight years finishing #2 in the standings, Strawn became the clear #1 and left the rest of the age group in his wake.
How impressive was Strawn in 2022? His winning point margin of 3,750 points was the largest since Michael Bell's in 2006, the first year we gave out the honor.
The key to winning a points race? Rack up points in every event you play. Strawn, who turned 59 in May, won five times in national points events, including the biggest tournament in senior golf, the U.S. Senior Amateur, but beyond that but he also had five runner-up finishes and seven other top 10s.
His success as a senior is borne from the sacrifices he made as a mid-amateur, when he de-emphasized competitive golf in favor of work and family. AmateurGolf.com's Sean Melia sat down with Strawn after he won the U.S. and Canadian Seniors, and the two talked about his golf origin story, his college years, hunting, how Bob Jones (Bobby Jones’ grandson) helped him with his mental game, and how the British Senior Amateur sharpened his game and focus.
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Players of the Year
Strawn contended in the first five events of the year (including in the Gasparilla Invitational, where he was the senior runner-up and 16th overall in the mid-am field) before Strawn picked up his first win of the year in the Florida Azalea Senior
, defeating the 2022 Super Senior Player of the Year Doug Hanzel
in a playoff.
After falling one shot short at the Senior Masters in the California desert, Strawn picked up his second trophy at the Trans-Mississippi Senior, going wire-to-wire
and holding off Walker Cup captain Mike McCoy
and Jerry Slagle
by a shot.
As the calendar turned to summer, Strawn kept playing well. After top ten at the National Senior Hall of Fame (where he is sure to be inducted some day), he qualified for the British Senior Open. Back in the U.S., he nearly won the North & South Senior in Pinehurst, where he lost in a playoff
to Sherill Britt
. He followed that up with a 5th place finish at the Reynolds Invitational.
Then came the two-week stretch that would be the apex of his amateur career, one that would see him win two national senior titles.
At The Kittansett Club in Massachusetts, Strawn arrived with modest expectations, just wanting to make match play. He did more than that, winning six matches, knocking off three past champions and only once having to go to the 18th hole. In the final he again met Hanzel, racing to an early 5-up lead and cruising to a 3&2 win
It's amazing,” the new champion said afterward. “I mean, I never thought that I'd have this opportunity [or] if I could actually pull it off. I felt like that I had the game in the right conditions and the right course setup, because I have that determination. But it's just amazing.”
The next week, Strawn went north of the border and broke away from the field late to win the Canadian Senior Amateur, capturing his second-straight national championship and getting to take "the coolest picture I’ve ever taken"
at the trophy ceremony.
His last win of the year came in the Society of Seniors (SOS) Dale Morey Championship, where a two-shot swing on the final hole
at Pine Needles gave him the title.
The end of Strawn's very busy year brought three team events (and three team wins). Strawn was a part of the winning East team
in the East West matches in Texas and then helped the USA stage a massive final-day comeback
to win the Concession Cup in Spain. He then captained the winning team
in the Golfweek Senior Challenge Cup, finishing tied for second individually.
Final Senior POY Points Standings, 2022
|W. Des Moines, IA
|Canyon Lake, CA
In his first full year as a senior competitor, Kevin VandenBerg
(Pulaski, N.Y.) finished second in the points race. And for the second straight year, 65-year-old Doug Hanzel
finished third, en route to earning AmateurGolf.com Super Senior Player-of-the-Year
Walker Cup captain Mike McCoy
was fourth while Allen Peake (Macon, Ga.) and Matt Sughrue
(Arlington, Va.) tied for fifth.
For the second straight year, five of the top ten points earners were from the state of Georgia.
Complete 2022 Points List (544 players)
| AmateurGolf.com Senior Rankings (two-year aggregate)