2023 PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARDS GO TO THREE FIRST-TIMERS
The split of the CDGA Player of the Year honor is fitting for Barger and McClear, who dueled in the 92nd Illinois State Amateur at Bloomington Country Club in July. Ultimately, McClear came out on top for his second-consecutive triumph, besting Barger by five shots thanks to a final-round 63. McClear, a redshirt senior at the University of Iowa, also earned valuable Player of the Year points by advancing to U.S. Open Final Qualifying and the U.S. Amateur.
Barger thrust himself into contention at the State Am with a third-round 64 at Bloomington, the course he grew up playing, before ultimately settling for a runner-up finish. In the midst of a summer during which he transferred from the University of Illinois to Illinois State University, Barger, a redshirt sophomore, set the course record in a U.S. Amateur qualifier at Weibring Golf Club at ISU with a 9-under 62. He also advanced to the Quarterfinals of the 103rd CDGA Amateur Championship at Lake Shore Country Club.
In total, Barger and McClear each earned 550 Player of the Year points, which surpassed Henry and two-time 2023 victor John Ramsey (Glenview) by 30 points. Last year’s Player of the Year, Chadd Slutzky (Deer Park / Royal Fox CC), finished fifth.
In his first year of senior eligibility, Henry, 55, put together a consistent season from start to finish to claim the Senior Player of the Year honor by an astonishing 310 points. Following a third-place finish in the Illinois Senior Open in June, Henry, mainly competing against individuals 30-plus years younger, finished T7 at 2 over in the State Am in his hometown of Bloomington. Next, he competed at the U.S. Senior Amateur at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee, where he advanced all the way to the Quarterfinals. Henry continued to flourish on the local stage to close out the season, finishing third in the 37th Illinois State Senior Amateur Championship at Rockford Country Club in September and making match play in the 8th CDGA Senior Four-Ball Amateur Championship at Elgin Country Club in October.
Glenn Przybylski (Frankfort / The Sanctuary GC) finished a distant second behind Henry in the Senior Player of the Year race, amassing 525 points compared to Henry’s 835. State Senior winner Scot Frankenreider (Peoria / Arrowhead CC), Greg Seelinger (Downers Grove / Village Links of Glen Ellyn) and 2021 Senior Player of the Year Mark Small (Frankfort / Prestwick CC) rounded out the top five.
In total, the 2023 CDGA Championship calendar featured 58 events, including eight Illinois State or CDGA Championships, 28 Illinois State or CDGA qualifiers, 21 USGA qualifiers and the Radix Cup Matches. The 2024 schedule will be released on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
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