Player of the Year Awards
Men’s Player of the Year
Adam Walicki -Phoenix, AZ
It took nine years of AGA competition for Adam Walicki to secure his first Player of the Year award in the Open Division. The second came much quicker as Walicki became a back-to-back winner in 2019
.“I think the first one probably felt a little better because it took so long and I was so anxious to get it,” Walicki said. “Maybe that relieved some of the pressure and made the second one a little easier, although it’s never really easy because we have so many good players here.”
Walicki got off to a fast start in 2019 by winning the San Tan Amateur in comeback fashion, shooting 65, which marked his best round of the year. Adam went on to represent the AGA as a member of the Morse Cup team at the Pacific Coast Amateur in July. He closed out the season by finishing second in the Northern Amateur and sixth in the Players Cup.
He also reached the quarterfinals of the Arizona Amateur, and was an alternate in both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur, which he has played in four times.
“That was the one disappointment because that is one of my goals, to make it into at least one of those national events every year and I didn‘t quite get it done,” he said. “But there were a lot of positives to the seasons, too.“I always strive to finish in the top 10 of every event I play and being able to do that in several state events was pretty satisfying.”
The Michigan native competed on the Gateway Tour in 2005-06, then walked away from golf for two full years. After regaining his amateur status, he returned to competition in AGA events in 2009.
“The criteria we have put together in the AGA is a true assessment of who was the Player of the Year,” he said. “I think it’s become a more accurate representation of how guys have played throughout the year, which favors more people. So to come out on top of that is a good feeling.
“I have looked through the records to see who has won Player of the Year and how many times, so I have a good feel about that. Each one really means a lot because it’s so hard to win them. So even though the first one was probably a little more special, this one isn’t far behind because I know how few guys have done it more than once.”
Women’s Player of the Year
Mikayla Fitzpatrick- Phoenix, AZ
No stranger to Arizona golf, Mikayla attended Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix – an Arizona girl’s golf powerhouse with 36 State Team Championship titles since 1974. Mikayla was part of the Gators team that set a record low team score of nine-under during the 2014 Arizona State Championship. During her time at Xavier College Prep, the team never lost a single match and won every state championship.
In 2015, Mikayla was named the AIA No. 1-ranked high school golfer and MVP after taking medalist honors in six matches and runner-up in two invitationals. As a Junior Golf Association of Arizona member, Mikayla was named the Player of the Year in the girl’s division in 2014, recording 13 top-10 finishes and three wins.
Following graduation from XCP in 2016, Mikayla attended Xavier University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in three years with a degree in Business Analytics. She is currently competing in her senior year for the Musketeers and plans to graduate with her MBA in May. After graduation, she will compete in the 2020 LPGA Q-School this August with the hopes of playing professional golf.
As a collegiate freshman, she earned BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, All-BIG EAST First Team, Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholar and BIG EAST All-Academic Team. In her second year, she earned All-BIG EAST Team honors as well as BIG EAST Golfer of the Week twice, Cincinnati Women’s Sports Association Collegiate Player of the Year and BIG EAST All-Academic Team. Last year, as a Junior, Mikayla was named BIG EAST Player of the Year, All-BIG EAST Team, BIG EAST Golfer of the Week four times, WGCA All-Academic Honors, BIG EAST All-Academic Team, Cincinnati Women’s Sports Association Collegiate Player of the Year and the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Award. She won the BIG EAST Conference Championship individually by nine strokes, including setting a course record 68 in the second round at Callawassie Island Golf Club. She led her team to regionals where she placed in a tie for 6th to become the first Xavier women’s golfer to qualify for the NCAA Championship
.Last fall, as a senior, Mikayla was named the BIG EAST Female Golfer of the Week. She continued her spring season this last week with another Top-10 finish in Florida at the FAU Winter Warmup and is looking forward to representing Xavier in her home state this weekend at Rio Verde Country Club.
She currently holds the Xavier University record for season rounds at par-or-better after she recorded 15 last season and career par-or-better rounds totaling 26 overall. She also holds the following records: Season Birdies with 87, Career Birdies with 235, Season Eagles with 4, Career Eagles with 7, low season scoring average as a freshman at 76.48, lowest ever season scoring average at 73.72 set last season over 36 rounds, lowest 18-hole score at 64 (-7), Lowest 36-hole score at 135 (-7), lowest 54-hole score at 214 (-2), and career scoring average of 75.12 currently.
Mikayla earned AGA Women’s Player of the Year points in the 2019 season by winning the AGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship at Troon North, firing a three-over-par score of 216 (71, 73, 72). She also was the qualifying medalist and semi-finalist, recording a five-under score of 67, in the 2019 AGA Women’s Match Play Championship.
Men’s Senior Player of the Year
Jeff Benton-Litchfield Park, AZ
Player of the Year awards are getting to be routine for Jeff Benton, who secured his third in a row in 2019 by putting together a solid season, capped off by winning his division of the Players Cup Championship.
Benton, 56, also won POY honors in the Senior Division in 2018 after claiming the Masters Division title in 2017
.“This one was pretty special because I had such a great year of golf,” said Benton, who played most of his events in the Open Division. “I actually came close to winning it in the Open Division, which is pretty gratifying considering all the good young players they have.”
Benton, an Arkansas native, also finished second in the Falcon Amateur and Senior Stroke Play for the fourth year in a row, and was third in the Southern Amateur.
He was medalist in local qualifying for the U.S. Senior Amateur and finished as low amateur in the Arizona Senior Open.
Benton is the head of a golfing family, with three children who were standout college golfers. His daughter Kaylee was an All-American last year as a senior at Arkansas, where she was an honor student and played on the Palmer Cup team
.“My plan this year was to play in open events with strong competition to try to get ready for the Senior Amateur,” he said.
“There are so many good players here in Arizona so I felt privileged to win the qualifier and make it to the national event. “Winning three (POY awards) in a row is pretty special, but I know that winning a fourth one will be even harder.”
Women’s Senior Player of the Year
Kim Eaton-Mesa, AZ
She describes herself as a “Country Club brat” growing up in Greeley, Colorado, as the youngest of five children. At the age of 12, she started play golf as an alternative to swimming. Kim learned the game by watching her family members who were avid golfers – her grandfather was a good golfer as well as her uncle Larry Eaton. Kim’s father was also a good golfer, but unfortunately passed away prior to Kim playing in her first golf tournament at the age of 13, so he never had a chance to see his daughter play.
Kim had one of the best mentors an aspiring player could wish for, LPGA Founder and tour professional Shirley Spork, who used to give lessons to Kim’s mom and step-father. As one of the 13 LPGA Founders, Spork started the LPGA more than 70 years ago and helped create the LPGA Professional division. Kim was a member of the LPGA Professional division and developed a relationship where she could call Shirley for advice when she lived in Palm Desert, California.
As a former police officer in Colorado, Kim earned two distinguished service awards as a member of the Evans Police Department. Kim was a former golf professional and Futures Tour member who played in the 1981 and 1983 U.S. Women’s Open and claimed her first national championship in 2010 at the Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur. In her home state of Colorado, she won at the Junior, Open and Senior levels, and was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2006. Kim joins her uncle, Larry Eaton, who is also in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.
In March of 2017, Kim participated as an amateur in the Legends Tour Walgreens Charity Classic at Grandview Golf Course in Sun City West, alongside a field of LPGA Tour players and Hall of Famers. She’s been an Arizona Women’s Golf Association Champion more than a dozen times.
Kim earned points in the 2019 season by winning the AGA Women’s Four-Ball Championship, finishing runner-up in the AGA Senior Women’s Match Play Championship and finishing fourth in the AGA Senior Women’s State Amateur Championship. Nationally, Kim qualified for the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open, the 2019 U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur and the 2019 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur (as medalist), reaching the round of 64 at both the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur
Masters Player of the Year
Aaron Wiemiller-Maricopa, AZ
Aaron Wiemiller says that once he started winning the game between his ears, his game on the golf course got much better. That showed in 2019 when he earned the Player of the Year Award in the Masters Division.
Wiemiller, a retired police officer from Minnetonka, Minnesota, didn’t play high school or college golf, but he has made his mark in both the Minnesota Golf Association and the Arizona Golf Association.
“When I was 13, a good friend suggested going to hit golf balls one day and I was hooked immediately,” he said. “I grew up on a nine hole, semi-private course, and I remember spending my days as a kid on that course from sunup to sundown.”
He moved to Arizona in 2013 and, after rehabbing a work-related knee injury, began playing in AGA events.
Wiemiller got his 2019 season rolling by tying for fifth in his division of the Senior Stroke Play and followed that up by winning the Falcon Amateur.“Compared to Minnesota, the AGA events are much more competitive,” he said.
“There’s a really strong field of players here and that has contributed to my improvement. It has pushed me to get better and more mentally focused.”
“I never thought I would win an award like this. It’s always been a dream of mine, so playing well this past year was pretty rewarding. The mental aspect of my game has gotten much better, being able to move on from mistakes when I make them, and that has made a big difference.”
Legends Division Player of the Year
Tim Blau-Mesa, AZ
Tim Blau has earned his second Player of the Year award, but 2019 was also a year of firsts which were equally gratifying for the Wisconsin native.
Blau, 68, also won the Legends POY award in 2017 but competed in 2018 in the Senior Division due to a change in the age criteria
.“Consistency really is the key to it, and I was able to put together very consistent finishes in the big events,” Blau said. “It’s always a challenge but I still enjoy practicing and hitting a lot of golf balls, which I’m sure has made a big difference.”
Blau won his Divisional Match Play event, 1-up, over Murphy Mitchell; finished second in Senior Stroke Play, the Southern Amateur, Northern Amateur and Players Cup; was third in the Falcon Amateur; and fifth, with partner Kevin Gregory, in the Arizona Four-Ball. For good measure, he won the senior division of the Mesa City Amateur.
The retired stockbroker, who now works with cryptocurrencies, also carded his first hole-in-one in 60 years of golf while shooting a 64 at Dobson Ranch, which marked the first time he has shot his age or better.
“Murph also had a great year and we really kind of battled it out the whole season for the points lead,” he said. “Either one of us could have won it, so I was fortunate to come out on top. I’m still having a lot of fun playing, and as long as I am able, I’m going to keep playing.”
Bryan Hoops-Chandler, AZ
The Mayfair Trophy was created in 1988 to be awarded to the AGA Member with the lowest weighted tournament scoring average at the end of each year. To be eligible, a player must compete in at least one USGA qualifying round in Arizona and at least two AGA individual major championships; or, compete in at least one USGA qualifying round in Arizona, at least one AGA individual major championship and a collegiate championship in Arizona. All scores count towards the adjusted average.
Bryan satisfied the eligibility requirements by posting 8 rounds from the following events: 2019 Arizona Open, 95th Arizona Amateur Championship (stroke play rounds), 2019 Arizona Mid-Amateur Championship and the 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier.