Only two players, Rich Berberian, PGA (Vesper CC) and Shawn Warren, PGA (Falmouth CC), had won the New England PGA’s Skip Wogan Player of the Year award since 2013. But Liam Friedman, PGA (Nashawtuc CC) broke through in dramatic fashion to add his name to that list in the final event of the 2020 season.
Friedman entered Avidia Cup Finals trailing Warren by less than 40 points, and edged Warren by a single stroke, finishing 3-under par and tied for second, while Warren finished 2-under and in a tie for fifth. That was enough to overcome the minute deficit and secure the Wogan Award. It is Friedman’s first Wogan award, and the second consecutive year Warren, the 2013, ‘14, ‘15 and ‘18 winner, has finished second. Rich Berberian won the Wogan Award in 2016, ‘17 and ‘19.
“First Player of the Year anywhere. It feels really good,” Friedman said. “The whole year was good. I played well most of the year. I had a couple events where I didn’t finish great but I stuck through it and it was a great year. I’m proud of myself.”
The Wogan race was whittled down to a handful of events in 2020. The cancelation of the PGA Professional National Championship, US Open Qualifying, New England Open, and state opens in all five states within the NEPGA boundaries left the NEPGA Championship, Stroke Play Series and Stroke Play Finals as the qualifying events.
“I thought maybe there’s an asterisk because we didn’t play the Mass Open, we didn’t play many state opens, we didn’t play the Club Pro,” Friedman said. “But I would have played in the Club Pro, I would have played in the Mass Open and who knows how that would have turned out. Once I worked that through in my head, I was able to realize that this is a big honor.”
Friedman performed consistently throughout those seven tournaments, collecting four top-3 finishes (including ties), to go with a sixth-place finish at the Section Championship, which accounted for more than one-third of his total Player of the Year points. He did not shoot a score higher than 74 in any round of a Wogan event, including the Section Championship where the scoring average was over 80.
Friedman adds the Wogan Award to his growing resume of accomplishments in the New England Section. He also claimed his second Avidia Bank Cup this year, and won the NEPGA Section Championship in 2017.
Jeff Seavey, PGA (Goose River) finished third in the Wogan standings, followed by Berberian and John Hickson, PGA (Chequessett Y&CC).