GOLF BAG: Scott Medlin Earns CPGA's Palmer Trophy
Scott Medlin has plenty to celebrate entering the New Year.
Medlin, a professional at Richmond Pines Country Club in Rockingham, has been awarded the prestigious Johnny Palmer Trophy by the Carolinas Professional Golfers Association (CPGA).
Curt Sanders, who plays out of Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, has been named CPGA Player of the year, unseating Pinehurst's Kelly Mitchum, who had won the honor for four consecutive years.
The CPGA's third honor of 2008 went to Chris Tucker, of Fort Mills, S.C, who was named Senior Player of the Year.
These titles are given to the PGA Professionals who, throughout the year, have proven themselves through their play in numerous Carolinas PGA tournaments, PGA of America Championships, PGA Tour events and United States Golf Association events.
The Johnny Palmer trophy is the award given to the player with the low stroke average in the four Carolinas PGA major tournaments. Johnny Palmer was a North Carolina-born golf legend who played successfully on the PGA Tour and received his nickname "Old Stone" from Sam Snead.
The trophy was newly added to the Special Awards and Honors repertoire in 2007, and has come to symbolize the very things Palmer stood for -- a competitive spirit, a stoic and deliberate approach to the game and quality play.
Medlin began 2008 looking back on a 2007 tournament season that saw him win the 83rd Carolinas Open. He followed that up by finishing out of the Top 10 only once (tied for 11th at 43rd North Carolina Open), and though he missed the section championship, he was anticipating a steady build on his 2007 success.
"I love playing in the Carolinas Open at the Surf Golf & Beach Club," he said. "I say it all the time, but that course just really suits me, so when I came out and was able to repeat as champion in 2008, I felt really good about my game."
As for any expectations in 2008 following that win, he said he really didn't have many. He wasn't a Class-A PGA professional when he won the 84th Horry County State Bank Carolinas Open, a requirement for earning all of these titles, so he had to finish that business first before he could think about a points chase for Player of the Year.
"When you win, you tend to put pressure on yourself to win again, but I didn't do that this year because I didn't have to," he said.
In 2007 and 2008, Medlin's tournament finishes were nearly identical. In descending order, he finished first, third, fourth, ninth and 11th in 2007. In 2008, he finished first, fourth, fifth, eighth, and 12th. It's that consistency that earned him the 2008 Johnny Palmer Trophy.
The 2008 Bob Boyd Player of the Year, Curt "Colonel" Sanders may have clinched the title with a second place finish at this year's section championship but without high finishes in each of the three previous CPGA points tournaments, and some success elsewhere, a title would not have been possible for the Conway, S.C., native.
While Sanders competed in both Section and PGA Tour events, his road to this year's Bob Boyd Player of the Year title started in 2007.
He won the 2007 section championship in convincing fashion at Daniel Island's Beresford Creek course over second-place finisher and title holder Mitchum. From there, he moved into the 2008 season with the opportunity to play at the PGA Tour's Verizon Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links, and the Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club.
As section champion, he also qualified to play in the 2008 Professional National Championship where he tied for 13th, good enough to earn entry into the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club.
Though the "Colonel" didn't make the cut in his three 2008 PGA Tour appearances, he said the opportunity to play was an experience he will never forget.
"It was surreal being surrounded by those players on those courses," he said. "I don't play on the PGA Tour and I probably won't, but to be there and see all those guys standing around me that are the best players in the world, I really appreciated that. I'm hoping that I can get back into those events and play better than I did this year."
Sanders finished 2008 with 459 Player of the Year Points and $14,231 in earnings. Of the four Carolinas PGA major tournaments, he finished in the top-10 three times and came in second at the Carolinas PGA Professional Championship.
The Bob Boyd Player of the Year title is named for one of the section's most successful tournament competitors. Boyd is a seven-time Player of the Year, four-time section champion, four-time Carolinas Open Champion, three-time N.C. Open Champion, five-time S.C. Open Champion and four-time Pro-Pro Champion.
Tucker, 51, is this year's Senior Professional of the Year. He won three times in 2008 section senior events and was the low medalist in his U.S. Open qualifier.
He won the section senior championship, was the low senior professional at the S.C. Open and never finished out of the top 20 in Section tournament play this year.
He finished 2008 with 956.67 Senior Player of the Year points and more than $11,000 in earnings. With his tie for fourth in the Senior Professional National Championship, which he qualified for with a win at the section senior championship, he is headed back to next year's Senior PGA Championship.
"I played in that championship and I don't think I've ever enjoyed an event more," he said. "There's no doubt that I wanted to make it back there and by finishing low in the Senior PNC, I get to do that and skip the first few rounds of Champions Tour Q-school. I couldn't have asked for more this year."
All three winners will be honored Feb. 15 during the Special Awards and Honors dinner ceremony at the Myrtle Beach Sheraton Convention Center.
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