The Washington State Golf Association (WSGA) has announced the 2016 Player of the Year recipients. The category winners are as follows: Men’s, Andrew Whalen of Ephrata; Women’s, Marianne Li of Bellevue; Men’s Mid-Amateur, Reid Hatley of Hayden Lake, Idaho; Women’s Mid-Amateur, Shawn Farmer of Renton; Senior Men’s, Erik Hanson of Kirkland; Senior Women’s, Lisa Smego of Olympia; Junior Boys’, Joe Highsmith of Lakewood; and Junior Girls’, Brittany Kwon of Bremerton.
The recipients will be honored at the 95th WSGA Annual Meeting, which is being held Saturday, October 29 at Fairwood Golf & Country Club in Renton, Wash.
Andrew Whalen, Men’s Player of the Year
Now a redshirt senior at Northwestern University, Andrew had a solid 2016 season. He made it to the final match of the PNGA Men’s Amateur before finishing runner-up, and was also runner-up at the prestigious North & South Amateur. He finished second at the Northwest Open Invitational, playing against the region’s PGA club professionals; and finished fifth at the Rosauers Open Invitational, also against the club pros, a tournament he had held the first-round lead in. He qualified for and played in the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, and had several strong showings in other championships – tied for 13th in the Washington State Amateur, tied for 23rd in the Pacific Coast Amateur, and tied for 26th in the Southwestern Amateur. In 2011, Whalen was named the WSGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year.
Marianne Li, Women’s Player of the Year
In 2016, Marianne continued her strong play in the Pacific Northwest golf scene. She won the Washington State Women’s Amateur, and was a quarterfinalist in the PNGA Women’s Amateur. She also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Now a sophomore at the University of California-Berkeley, Li qualified as an individual for the 2016 NCAA Women’s Championship, held at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club. Li was the top-ranked junior golfer in Washington while at Newport High School in Bellevue, qualifying for five USGA national championships and winning the 2014 Pacific Northwest Junior PGA Championship.
Reid Hatley, Men’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year
This is the second year in a row that Reid has earned this honor, having another solid year in 2016. He won the Washington State Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship, having finished third last year and second the year before. He finished ninth at the Rosauers Open Invitational and made it to the Round of 32 in the PNGA Men’s Amateur. He was named to represent Team Washington in the 2016 USGA Men’s State Team Championship, where he finished tied for 12th individually. He was the qualifying medalist for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, the second year in a row he has qualified for that national championship. He also qualified for and played in the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.
Shawn Farmer, Women’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year
This is the first time Shawn has received this award. Her season included a runner-up finish at the PNGA Women’s Mid-Amateur, where she made it to the final match; and she also finished tied for second in the WSGA Women’s Mid-Amateur, a championship she won in 2014. She had competed for Team Washington in the 2015 USGA Women’s State Team Championship.
Erik Hanson, Senior Men’s Player of the Year
Erik had another great year, culminating with his being named for this award. He finished tied for second in the Washington Open Invitational, finishing just one shot off the lead, playing against the region’s PGA club professionals. He was also a semifinalist in the PNGA Master-40 Amateur, a championship he has won three times previously (2015, 2010, 2007). Hanson finished third in the Washington State Men’s Mid-Amateur, and was named to Team Washington in the 2016 USGA Men’s State Team where he finished tied for sixth overall in the national championship. Hanson has also qualified for the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.
Lisa Smego, Senior Women’s Player of the Year
This year saw a great comeback for Lisa. She started the season fast, winning the Washington State Senior Women’s Champion of Champions in April, and then winning the Washington State Senior Women’s Amateur in June. Smego has twice before received the WSGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year award, in 2013 and 2007, and has also twice received the PNGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year award, in 2006 and 2013.
Joe Highsmith, Junior Boys’ Player of the Year
The 2016 season saw a big leap forward for Joe. He finished third in the Washington State Amateur, after having the lead going into the final round and finishing just one shot out of a playoff in his bid to become the youngest player to win the championship. He finished second at the WJGA State Championship, and second at the WIAA 4A High School State Championship. Highsmith won the AJGA Ryan Moore Junior title, and made it to the Round of 16 at the PNGA Junior Boys’ Amateur. He was the qualifying medalist for the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur, and made it to the Round 32 in that national championship. Highsmith is a junior at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, and has already committed to attend Southern Methodist University after graduation.
Brittany Kwon, Junior Girls’ Player of the Year
Brittany won several titles in 2016. In WJGA events, she won the Eastern Open, the Western Open, the District 3 Championship, and capped it off by winning the WJGA State Championship. She also was the co-medalist in the WJGA Junior World Qualifier. Kwon also won the WIAA 3A High School State Championship, and finished runner-up in the PNGA Junior Girls’ Amateur, a championship she won in 2014 as a 13-year-old. She also finished runner-up in the Northwest Junior PGA Championship, and was selected for Team Washington in the Girls’ Junior America’s Cup, where she finished 11th individually.
The WSGA Championship Committee meets annually in early October to vote and select the Players of the Year for the WSGA in the categories of Men’s, Women’s, Senior Men’s, Senior Women’s, Men’s Mid-Amateur, Women’s Mid-Amateur, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’. The WSGA’s OGIO Performance Points list is used as the primary guide for the selection. Since the WSGA does not have a performance points list for juniors, the WSGA receives the nominations for selection from the Washington Junior Golf Association.