Leigha Devine CGA Player of the Year for second straight season; Marilyn Hardy and Kaylee Chen also take home POY honors; Grace Burke Award winners named
By Gary Baines – 03/11/2022
(To note: That of men History of CGA Players of the Year was released earlier this week.)
The past 18 months have been a whirlwind of accomplishments on the golf course for Leigha Devine.
Last year, the Windsor resident qualified and competed in arguably the most prestigious women’s golf tournament in the world, the US Women’s Open, and won titles in the CGA women’s majors, the Match Play and stroke play.
This year turned out to be more or less the same, with a CGA women’s match play victory, a near miss in stroke play, qualifying for – and a good run – her first American women’s amateur and her first individual win. in a university tournament.
And, in 2021 and 2022, the year ends with a CGA Player of the Year award.
Devine, a 21-year-old who plays at Ptarmigan Country Club, joins a stellar list of female golfers who have earned CGA/CWGA Player of the Year honors in consecutive years of the 21st century. That includes three-time LPGA Tour winner Jennifer Kupcho this season (POY in 2014, ’15 and ’16); Mary Weinstein (2017, ’18 and ’19), now assistant women’s coach at Santa Clara; Somin Lee (2011 and ’12); Kim Eaton (2009 and ’10, as well as 2004 and ’07); Kelly Schaub (2005 and 2006, as well as 2003) and McKenzie Dyslin (2001 and 2002).
“Being named Women’s Player of the Year for the second time is an absolute honor,” Devine wrote in an email this week. “The CGA gave me so many opportunities to play and really provided me with an incredible environment to grow a player. To be in good company with people like Mary Weinstein and Jennifer Kupcho is a privilege and I hope to have the success they have had.”
Devine came close to becoming the first player since the late 1980s to sweep the CGA Women’s Major Championships for two consecutive years. Wendy Werley won the Women’s Match Play and Stroke Play in 1988 and 1989.
After beating Morgan Ryan 5 and 4 in the scheduled 36-hole Women’s Match Play final this year, Devine was tied with Kelsey Webster for the Women’s Stroke Play lead with three holes remaining. But missed short putts on the Colorado National’s final two holes — 3 feet on No. 17 and 4 feet on No. 18 — left the defending champion one shot away from title-winning Webster.
It stung a bit, but earning a spot in the US Women’s Amateur for the first time – and advancing to match play – was a satisfying accomplishment for Devine. The Rutgers University golfer also won her first national championship game before falling in the round of 16 at Chambers Bay in Washington.
“When I think back to the summer season, the memory that sticks out the most is my time at the Am,” Devine noted. “From qualifying for the Colorado National (where she finished second) to losing in the Round of 16, the whole experience was one I couldn’t be happier about. I feel like I really broke through when it comes to fit. As a player, I proved myself a lot by not playing to the cut line and going as far as possible.
Another first came in September as Devine earned the first individual varsity victory of his career, tied for first place in the Badger Invitational in Wisconsin. Her total of 209 of 7 under par for 54 holes was a better college for her.
“My biggest accomplishment so far in 2022 was winning my first college tournament,” Devine said via email. “We played at University Ridge, Wisconsin’s home course, and a track I’ve played at a few times. … It was a very exciting moment and a goal that I had been waiting for a long time to be crossed off the list.
Devine, a Fossil Ridge High School graduate, also finished second in another varsity tournament and has a 72.92 stroke average so far this season. She plans to play another season and a half at Rutgers.
Devine continues to work with Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Ed Oldham, an instructor who also assists Kupcho.
Here are the other CGA Players of the Year and their accomplishments in 2022:
— Senior Female Player of the Year: Marilyn Hardy of Gunnison, Dos Rios Golf Club
Hardy, who splits her time between Gunnison and the Houston area, is now in her 60s but continues to be a regular contender in senior women’s events in Colorado — as well as some in Texas.
This year, Hardy teamed with Kristine Franklin to win the CGA Women’s Dunham Chapman on a breakaway on Hardy’s home course, winning by 21 strokes at Dos Rios. And last month she prevailed by two strokes at the Texas Golf Association Women’s Senior Stroke Play, an event she also won in 2011.
Hardy also finished first in the United States Women’s Senior Amateur Qualifier – earning a spot in her 44th USGA Championship – then advanced to the Round of 16. But he was waiting for three-time defending champion Lara Tennant of Portland, who won games 3 and 2.
Hardy has placed second in three separate CGA Women’s Championships – the Senior Stroke Play, an event she won in 2022; senior match play; and mid-amateur stroke play.
This is the first CGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year honor for Hardy, as Franklin and Eaton have dominated the honor in recent years, with only Christie Austin (2014) breaking their combined run which began in 2009 .
— Female Player of the Year: Kaylee Chen of Parker
Chen, now a freshman on the New Mexico State Women’s Golf Team, ended her junior golf career with two straight Player of the Year awards as she was the Player of the Year. of the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado in 2021.
Chen has played in a wide variety of golf events in 2022 – junior, collegiate, open-age amateur, national championships, and more.
On the junior side, the Cherry Creek High School graduate finished second in the CGA State Junior Championship women’s tournament and placed 10th in the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior. Chen is a “graduate” of the Hale Irwin Player Program at CommonGround Golf Course.
In the open-age amateur events, Chen placed fifth in CGA women’s stroke play and advanced to the CGA women’s match play quarterfinals.
With Morgan Miller, Chen advanced to the 32nd round of match play at the US Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, where they fell in 19 holes.
Chen’s best individual college finish in his first semester was a tie for 23rd at the New Mexico State Golf Iconic Classic.
– Grace Burke Award, given to female high school golfers who demonstrate character, leadership and personal integrity through their actions in competition and through participation in various golf programs
Molly Stratton of Centennial, Inverness Hotel & Golf Club
Noelle Thompson of Erie
Kaitlin Zingler of Lakewood, Pinehurst Country Club