The Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) has announced the 2019 Players of the Year for the region.
Those honored include Men’s Player of the Year, Joe Highsmith of Lakewood, Wash.; Women’s, Ellie Slama of Salem, Ore.; Men’s Mid-Amateur, Reid Hatley of Hayden Lake, Idaho; Women’s Mid-Amateur, Gretchen Johnson of Portland, Ore.; Senior Men’s, Pat O’Donnell of Happy Valley, Ore.; Senior Women’s, Lara Tennant of Portland, Ore.; Junior Boys’, Ian Siebers of Bellevue, Wash.; and Junior Girls’, Gihoe Seo of Mercer Island, Wash.
Men’s Player of the Year:
Joe Highsmith (WA GOLF)
Highsmith, a sophomore at Pepperdine University who last spring was named WCC Freshman of the Year, had top-10 finishes at the NCAA D-I Regional and Sunnehanna Amateur, and top-25 finishes at the Northeast Amateur, Western Amateur and NCAA D-I National Championship. He was a sectional qualifying medalist in the U.S. Amateur, a quarterfinalist in the Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur, and crowned his season by winning the Sahalee Players Championship. Highsmith was named the PNGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year in 2017.
Women’s Player of the Year:
Ellie Slama (OGA)
Now a junior on the Oregon State University women’s golf team, Slama finished last spring by setting the school’s single-season scoring record, and was selected to the All-Pac-12 First Team. She finished eighth in the Pac-12 Championship, and 11th at the NCAA Regional. This summer she won the Oregon Amateur, successfully defending her title. She qualified for the LPGA Tour’s Portland Classic, where she would make the cut and finish tied for 57th, competing against the tour professionals. Slama was one of just 72 players from around the world selected to compete in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. She was previously named the PNGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016.
Men’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year:
Reid Hatley (WA GOLF)
Hatley was named the Men’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year for the fifth consecutive year. He won the Oregon Open, tied for sixth in the Northwest Open, and tied for 15th in the Rosauers Invitational, all competing against the region’s PGA club professionals. Hatley won the Washington Amateur, and finished fifth in the Mexican Amateur.
Women’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year:
Gretchen Johnson (OGA)
Johnson made a mark on the regional and national scene in 2019. She won the Oregon Mid-Amateur and Pacific Northwest Women’s Mid-Amateur championships, finished runner-up in the OGA Tournament of Champions, and was a quarterfinalist in the Oregon Amateur. She capped her season by making it to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. This is the second year in a row that Johnson has received this Player of the Year award.
Senior Men’s Player of the Year:
Pat O’Donnell (OGA)
O’Donnell dominated the region’s senior competition in 2019. He won the Oregon Senior Men’s Amateur, Pacific Northwest Senior Men’s Amateur, Pacific Northwest Senior Players’ Championship, and the OGA Tournament of Champions. He also tied for second in the Oregon Open, competing against the region’s PGA club professionals, losing out in a three-way playoff for the title. O’Donnell has previously received this Senior Men’s Player of the Year award in 2016.
Senior Women’s Player of the Year:
Lara Tennant (OGA)
Tennant won national titles on two continents in 2019. She accomplished the rare feat of successfully defending her title in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, winning for the second year in a row. She then won the R&A Women’s Senior Amateur in a three-way playoff, held this year at Royal St. David’s in Wales. Tennant also won the Oregon Senior Women’s Amateur, and finished Low Amateur in the LPGA Tour’s Legends Cup. Tennant was named the Senior Women’s Player of the Year for the third year in a row.
Ian Siebers (WA GOLF)
This is the second year in a row that Siebers has been named Junior Boys’ Player of the Year. He won the individual title in the 2019 Junior America’s Cup, and was selected to play on the U.S. team in the Junior Presidents Cup. Siebers was the medalist at the WJGA Junior World Qualifier, and had top-10 finishes in five AJGA and WJGA events. He made it to the quarterfinals in the Pacific Northwest Junior Boys’ Amateur.
Gihoe Seo (WA GOLF)
Seo won four titles this season, the Pacific Northwest Junior Girls’ Amateur, WJGA Players Open, WJGA District 2 Championship, and the WJGA Tournament of Champions. She also finished fourth in both the WJGA State Championship and the WJGA Western Open.
The PNGA Player of the Year candidates are nominated by the state and provincial golf associations that comprise the PNGA (British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington), and are selected by a vote of the PNGA Championship Committee. Awards are officially presented at the PNGA Annual Meeting in the spring.
The PNGA was founded on February 4, 1899. It is a 501c3 charitable, international, amateur golf association dedicated to preserving the true spirit of golf by supporting its allied associations, conducting quality championships, and promoting activities beneficial to golfers in the Pacific Northwest. For more than a century, the Association has been a pioneer in developing competitions and services and its mission has grown and evolved. Today, the PNGA remains committed to being a truly regional organization providing benefits and services to its members and member clubs throughout the Northwest.