Stephanie Meadow’s fortitude and resilience in returning from serious injury to regain her full LPGA Tour card for next season has earned her the Professional Player of the Year Award for 2018 from the Irish Golf Writers’ Association, sponsored by Allianz.
Meadow, 26, is the first woman to win the award since its inception in 1976.
The Northern Irishwoman suffered a stress fracture (L5) in her spine during the 2017 season, but was unable to avail of a medical exemption on the LPGA Tour, underwent surgery and endured over four months of rehabilitation to resurface with renewed determination in the 2018.
Playing on the Symetra Tour, Meadow won the IOA Championship, had nine top-10s during the year and claimed a full LPGA Tour card for next season by finishing sixth on the order of merit.
“I am so honoured and so humbled to have won the Professional Golfer of the Year,” she said.
“I was knocked on my face a little bit last year and to come out and have such a great season and to top it off by being recognised as the Professional Golfer of the Year is truly remarkable.
“I have a lot of people to thank, because it is not just me who got me here, to the ILGU.
“Girls golf has come a long way in the last 10 years and to win this award on behalf of them is unbelievable.
“Their training programmes have made me the golfer I am today.I have a lot of people in my corner who I would like to thank. My coaches, my sports psychologist, my fitness trainer who made me healthy again and my family and close friends, who picked me up this past year and got me through it,” said Meadow.
Her award was accepted on her behalf at the awards dinner in Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links on Thursday night by Sinéad Heraty, chief executive of the Irish Ladies Golf Union.
Robin Dawson received the Men’s Amateur Player of the Year award following a standout final season as an amateur in which the 22-year-old Waterfordman captured the FloGas Irish Amateur Open Championship at Royal Co Down in May, finished runner-up in the British Amateur Championship and was second in the European Amateur Championship.
Dawson, an equine business graduate from NUI Maynooth, turned professional following the World Amateur Team Championship and has earned his card for the Challenge Tour for the 2019 season.
Sara Byrne, 17, won the Irish Ladies’ Close Championship at Enniscrone and also finished runner-up in the Leinster Women’s Open Championship.
The Douglas, Co Cork, teenager represented Ireland in the World Junior Championship, the European Girls’ Team Championship, the Home International Girls’ Championship and topped the ILGU Girls’ Order of Merit.