The 2021 NEPGA season has gone by in what seemed like a blink, and if you didn’t have a chance to follow along, there has been some outstanding play throughout the season by our PGA Professionals, not just in New England Section events, but also in national and regional events. As we approach the last Player of the Year point eligible event on Monday at the Avidia Cup Finals in Portland, ME, two Professionals are separated by approximately 1,000 points for the Rolex Wogan Player of the Year, five Professionals control their own destiny to claim the Avidia Cup, and the SCNS Sports Foods 1st & 10th Tee Challenges are tight with one round left.
Shawn Warren, PGA of Falmouth Country Club has played some outstanding golf in 2021, which includes two runner-up finishes in state open’s, as well as competing in a Korn Ferry Tour event at his home club. His steady play throughout the season has paved the way for a 1007.50 point lead in the Rolex Wogan Player of the Year standings over his nearest and most recognized challenger, Rich Berberian, Jr., PGA of Vesper Country Club. While Warren gained most of his points via performance in state opens, Berberian performed strongly in New England Section events including a torrid stretch in August which saw him capture a stroke play series just weeks before capturing his 4th NEPGA Championship at Worcester CC. A slew of scenarios await these two Professionals including an automatic Player of the Year title if Warren finishes inside the top-4 at Portland CC. If he finishes outside the top-4 it will depend on how far back he finishes, and where Berberian finishes in relation. If Berberian finishes inside the top-5 he will have a mathematical chance at the Player of the Year, so long as Warren finishes 20th or worse. If Berberian finishes inside the top-10 Warren will have more wiggle room to escape. Warren will play almost two hours before Berberian on Monday based on their Avidia Cup point standings, so he will have to wait and see if he does enough to secure his 5th Wogan Player of the Year title since 2013.
Speaking of the Avidia Cup, after five Stroke Play Series events from April through September, the top 54 were determined and invited to the recently renovated Portland Country Club in Portland, ME. The top five players control their own destiny and will capture the Avidia Bank Cup with a victory on Monday. The top five are: Jim Clay, PGA (New Seabury), Eric Barlow, PGA (Winchester CC), Rich Berberian, Jr., PGA (Vesper), Jeff Martin, PGA (Wollaston) and Dave Jankowski, PGA (Burlington). Jankowski has forfeited his spot in lieu of the inaugural Pfanner Cup in Vermont. All qualifiers will receive a reset points total and will have points added to that total based on their finish Monday. The total point amount will determine who the Avidia Cup Champion is. While every player is mathematically eligible to win the Avidia Bank Cup, Rich Berberian, Jr. is the only player with a realistic shot at capturing both of these point races and the bonus that comes with them.
The third race decided on Monday is the most unique – the SCNS Sports Foods 1st & 10th tee challenge tracks the performance on just two holes of each round – the 1st and the 10th. All stroke play series events including the finals, as well as the first two rounds of the Section Championship are counted towards the standings, and players must have 5 scores eligible to be eligible. The player with the best cumulative five-hole score in relation to par will be crowned the 1st and 10th Tee Challenge winners. Currently Todd Scarafoni, PGA (Bass Rocks) leads the 1st tee at 4-under par and Bob Bruso, PGA (Blackstone National) leads the 10th tee, also at 4-under par, with a slew of chasers on each tee. The top-5 for each tee receive a bonus payout at the end of the season.
In other Player of the Year races around the Section, here are some updates on our respective Chapter standings.
The race for the title of Cape Cod Dutch Wessner Player of the Year is heating up! Greg Yeomans of the Bay Club jumped into first place with his victory at the Chapter Championship and now has a total of 58 points. Close behind him is Sandwich Hollows Golf Club’s Tom Tobey with 51.33 points. With seven events left on the schedule, including the Match Play Championship there are plenty of points still up for grabs!
The Dutch Wessner Player of the Year is Presented by 15th Golf Club.
Eric Higgins (Webhannet) has a commanding lead over John Hickson (Cape Neddick), 237.3 to 164 in the Maine Chapter Player of the Year standings, and with only two events left on the Maine Chapter calendar, it will be a near impossibility for Hickson to catch him.
The Massachusetts Chapter Player of the Year race has a tight race at the top of the leaderboard, with the top 4 players separated by only 18 points. In the top two spots are Robert Bradley (Brockton CC) with 121.5 points and Jeff Martin (Wollaston GC) with 118 points. Both players had strong showings at the Chapter Championship held on September 23rd, with Martin finishing in first and Bradley finishing in solo second. Rounding out the top 4 is Eric Barlow (Winchester CC) and Shawn Durocher (Cyprian Keyes GC).
The Massachusetts Chapter Player of the Year is Presented by 15th Golf Club.
The New Hampshire Chapter Player of the Year race has seen Danny Kish, PGA (Atkinson Resort) and two-time Chapter Champion Matt Arvanitis, PGA (Southern New Hampshire University) have gone back and forth all season, however with just two events left it is Kish leading Dan Wilkins, PGA (Laconia) by 10 points, with Arvanitis another 13 behind Wilkins.
Ed Kirby of The Aquidneck Club sits atop the leaderboard of the Rhode Island Les Kennedy Player of the Year Award. Fresh off of his victory at the Chapter Championship, Kirby jumped to the top of the leaderboard with 35 points. Close behind him is Brian Owens (North Kingstown GC) with 27.5 points and Nick Jagoe (Wanumetonomy G & CC) with 26.5 points. There are two events left on the schedule for the Chapter with the Pro-Pro at Potowomut on 10/18 and the Pro-Am hosted by Pawtucket CC on 10/25.
The Les Kennedy Player of the Year Award is Presented by 15th Golf Club.
David Bennett of CC of Vermont has won the Vermont Chapter Player of the Year Award for the second consecutive season! It was a hard fought race between Bennett and David Jankowski (Burlington CC) as the two players traded turns in the top spot throughout the season. The title ultimately came down to the final event of the season which was held at Dorset Field Club on September 27th. Bennett fired a 1-under 69, besting Jankowski by one stroke, to win the individual Professional competition and the Vermont Chapter Player of the Year Award.
The Vermont Chapter Player of the Year is Presented by Northstar Fireworks.