2018 NCGA Players of the Year
December 3, 2018
NCGA Player of the Year—Nick Moore
When Nick Moore won the 2018 NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship, he moved into a tie for third place on the all-time NCGA career win list with seven.
The only two players ahead of him are NCGA Hall of Famers Casey Boyns and Randy Haag, who are tied for the No.1 spot (16 wins).
Thanks to yet another solid season, Moore has joined another elite group as a multiple-winner of Player of the Year honors. The Bayonet/Black Horse GC member, who won his first title in 2015, captured his second crown by tallying 1,604 points. His NCGA Four-Ball Championship partner and good friend, Matt Cohn, was second at 1,499.
“I feel very honored to be Player of the Year again. It was definitely a goal of mine to start the year,” the 36-year-old said. “I felt like in 2017 my game wasn’t as sharp as it could’ve been.”
According to Moore, what helped turned things around was his appearance at the Seaver Cup, where he helped the NCGA defeat the SCGA, 44-28. “I had so much fun with the guys. It just reminded me of why I love this game, and I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve created through this amazing game.”
Along with his win at the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship (600 points), Moore’s got 280 points for reaching the quarterfinals at the California Amateur and another 210 points for advancing to the Round of 16 at the NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship. He’d garner another 288 points via fourth and fifth place finishes at the NCGA Valley Am and NCGA Public Links Championship, respectively.
“My most memorable moment was winning the Stroke Play with my 93-year-old grandfather riding along in the cart for all 18 holes,” Moore said. “He may have been happier about that win than I was. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
NCGA Women’s Player of the Year—Lucy Li
Following her 1-up loss on the 18th hole to Alexa Pano during the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at Poppy Hills GC, Redwood Shores resident Lucy Li was obviously heartbroken.
Not only was it a lost opportunity to win a USGA title in her home state. Li was the No.1 seed, having opened the championship with a championship and women’s course record 9-under 62 during stroke play qualifying.
As it turned out, it was the only hiccup in what was another great season for Li. The still only 16-year-old Youth on Course member would tally 1,430 points to earn her first NCGA Women’s Player of the Year title. U.S. Girls’ Championship winner Yealimi Noh finished second at 990.
“Being NCGA Player of the Year means so much to me,” Li said. “I feel so honored and humbled. The NCGA has been supporting me my whole career, so it means a lot.”
Despite not winning the U.S. Girls’ Junior, Li racked up 400 points at the event thanks to her performance. She also tallied 430 points by reaching the quarterfinals and being medalist at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. To top things off, she’d garner another 650 points for making the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek Club.
“I feel like I had a good season,” said Li, whose 2018 campaign also included making her debut for Team USA at the Curtis Cup. “I feel like I played solid golf.”
NCGA Senior Player of the Year—Jeff Wilson
On the 18th hole in the final round of the 2018 California Senior Amateur Championship at The Preserve Golf Club, Jeff Wilson faced a potential predicament. While he held a two-shot lead, Wilson was just off the green in two, staring at a tricky, potential three-putt. His nearest competitor, meanwhile, defending Senior Player of the Year Randy Haag, lay two just a few feet from the flagstick and was in prime shape for a birdie.
Just minutes later, in a moment that symbolized his season, Wilson drained the impossible-looking putt to immediately douse any chances of a Haag comeback.
“There’s no other amateur that does the things that Jeff does,” said Haag afterwards. “The putts he made coming in were ridiculous. He was perfect. It was fun to watch.”
For Wilson, who finished the year with 2,530 points to win his first NCGA Player of the Year crown, it was a career season. In August, after 30-plus appearances in a number of events, Wilson finally got what had been an elusive USGA win (and 700 points) when he captured the U.S. Senior Amateur crown at Eugene CC in Oregon. The California Senior Amateur title was another 600 points. The Green Valley CC member also earned 500 points for making the cut at the U.S. Senior Open. He’d defeat Haag (1,803 points) by 727 points in the standings.
“I worked hard this year, harder than I ever have,” said Wilson, who turned 55 last June. “I put the work in. The Senior Player of the Year award is icing on the cake. Everything just kind of steamrolled.”
NCGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year—Pat Cornett
Olympic Club member Pat Cornett has achieved quite a bit during a long and illustrious career.
The 64-year-old’s resume includes being captain for the 2012 Curtis Cup and competing in over 50 USGA championships. Never, however, has Cornett ever earned Player of the Year status. That is, until now.
Cornett won her first NCGA Player of the Year crown, finishing the season with 550 points. She’d beat out two-time defending Player of the Year Lynne Cowan by 10 points.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been a player of the year in any sport so from that perspective, a first and firsts are always fun!,” Cornett said. “To be recognized with a highly competitive group of Northern California senior women is very special. Year after year, our players do well in the national championships and even win (Karen Garcia of Cool won the 2015 U.S. Senior Women’s Am). So to be singled out this year is indeed special.”
Cornett earned 250 points with a third place finish at the NCGA Senior Women’s Am and tacked on another 140 points by reaching the Round of 32 at the U.S. Senior Women’s Am. She’d tally another 160 points by being exempt for the U.S. Senior Women’s Am and finishing 10th at the California Senior Women’s Am.
“In regards to my year, well truth be told, last year was so much better getting to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Senior Amateur. It was very disappointing this year to lose in the second round of the USGA Senior Amateur in sudden death,” Cornett said. “But on the other hand, it was fun being able to get out and compete and of course renewing friendships literally across the world.”
NCGA Super Senior Player of the Year—Ron Johnson
Ever since he started playing golf at the age of 12, Ron Johnson has for the most part always been the other guy. In both high school and college, he was the fifth man.
That all changed when Johnson turned 60, and it’s even more different now. Six decades later, at the age of 72, Johnson is the guy. The Diablo CC member won his first NCGA Player of the Year title, ending the season with 1,247 points. Herb Jensen, who won the inaugural Super Senior crown in 2015, was runner-up at 1,038.
“It’s unbelievable,” Johnson said. “To play all my life, and then after the age of 60 to have all this success, it boggles my mind.”
Johnson had come close before. In 2015, he was runner-up to Jensen in the standings. The last two years, he finished seventh and sixth, respectively, behind California Golf Hall of Famer Gary Vanier.
“It’s a phenomenal group of guys. We’re all still competitive but there’s no animosity,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of support out there for the person playing well that week.”
Johnson earned 300 points with his win at the NCGA Super Senior Match Play Championship. Other big gainers were a win at the Merced County Super Senior, a semifinals finish at the San Francisco City Super Senior and a runner-up finish at the State Fair Super Senior.
“This season has kind of been a dream come true,” he said.