Tacoma, Wash. – Washington Golf (WA Golf) has announced the Player of the Year award recipients for 2023. The category winners are as follows: Women’s, Angela Zhang of Bellevue; Men’s, Pono Yanagi of Pullman; Junior Girls’, Angela Zhang; Junior Boys’, Baylor Larrabee of Ferndale; Women’s Mid-Amateur, Sarah Lawrence of Monroe; Men’s Mid-Amateur, Jake Koppenberg of Bellingham; Senior Women’s, Kim Shek of Bellevue; and Senior Men’s, Tom Brandes of Bellevue.
The recipients will be highlighted at the 102nd WA Golf Annual Meeting, held on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at Mill Creek Country Club.
Women’s and Junior Girls’ Player of the Year
Although just 14 years old, Zhang had a dominant season on several levels, and so was named the top player in both categories. She won three WJGA titles, as well as the WJGA Junior State Championship; the Washington Women’s Champion of Champions; the AJGA Salt Lake Junior; and the Amundi Evian Juniors Cup. Zhang also won the Washington Women’s Amateur for the second year in a row, finishing eight shots ahead of the second-place finisher this year. Last year she was the youngest, at age 13, to ever win that state title. She made the round of 64 in the U.S. Girls’ Junior, and qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open held at Pebble Beach, where she was the youngest player in the field. She and her partner Alice Zhao were semifinalists in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. Zhang was named the WA Golf Junior Girls’ Player of the Year last year.
Men’s Player of the Year
Now a fifth-year senior on the Washington State University men’s golf team, Yanagi finished third in the Pac-12 Championship, and was an All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention. He won the Washington Men’s Amateur, and was the qualifying medalist for the U.S. Amateur, with the qualifier held on his home course of Palouse Ridge. He finished tied for 20th in the Pacific Coast Amateur.
Junior Boys’s Player of the Year
Larrabee won four significant titles this year, including the Hogan Cup, WJGA Western Open, WJGA Players Open, and the individual title at the WIAA 3A High School State Championship. He had two top-10 finishes, at the WJGA Joel Dahmen Invitational and the Junior America’s Cup. Larrabee made the round 16 at the PNGA Junior Boys’ Amateur, and the round of 64 at the PNGA Men’s Amateur. He finished tied for 17th in the Oregon Open, competing against the region’s PGA professionals.
Women’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year
Lawrence has continued her stellar play which began as a junior player. This year she finished second in the Washington Women’s Mid-Amateur, and made it to the round of 32 in the PNGA Women’s Amateur. She also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.
Men’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year
Koppenberg had four top-5 finishes, including in the Washington Men’s Mid-Amateur, Desert Amateur, Washington Men’s Champion of Champions, and the Northwest Open, playing against the region’s PGA professionals. He had three other top-20 finishes, in the Gobbler Amateur, Grapevine Amateur, and Saguaro Amateur. He qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur. Koppenberg capped his year off by being named to the Hudson Cup, and was instrumental in the Amateur team’s dominant win over the region’s PGA professionals.
Senior Women’s Player of the Year
Shek has now earned this honor for the second year in a row. She won the Washington Senior Women’s Amateur and the WSWGA Senior Championship, finished fourth in the Washington Senior Women’s Champion of Champions, and eighth in the PNGA Senior Women’s Amateur. She also qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
Senior Men’s Player of the Year
This is now the 12th time that Brandes has earned the Senior Men’s Player of the Year honor. The Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Famer won the Washington Senior Men’s Amateur for the 10th time, this year by an astonishing nine shots clear of the second-place finisher. He also won the Washington Men’s Champion of Champions for the fourth consecutive year, and eighth title overall. He finished second in the PNGA Senior Men’s Amateur, made it to the round 16 in the PNGA Master-40, and qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur. He was named to the Senior Hudson Cup amateur team.