Josh Rhodes & Lauren Hartlage Headline KGA's Players of the Year for 2020
LOUISVILLE, KY (November 20, 2020) – The state of Kentucky’s top amateur golfers for the 2020 season are Josh Rhodes, Lauren Hartlage, Andy Roberts, Tom Campbell, Greg Engle, and Rick Cain. The Kentucky Golf Association is proud to bestow its Player of the Year titles to these six golfers after each recorded a banner season on the links.
Josh Rhodes of Paducah is the recipient of the John Owens Award, recognizing the top male amateur golfer in the state 49 years of age or younger. Rhodes was a consistent threat to win some of the state’s top titles throughout the season. He finished runner-up in the Kentucky Match Play Championship at Nevel Meade Golf Club as well as the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Mid-Amateur at Paxton Park Golf Course. Rhodes also recorded a third-place finish at Lexington Country Club in the 106th Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Amateur. If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, Rhodes would have also gotten the chance to compete in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Philadelphia this year alongside partner Shane Taylor. Despite the close calls and the impact of the coronavirus, he was able to pick up a KGA Am Series victory at Indian Hills Country Club in July where he shot 67 (-4).
“I never dreamed that I would be Kentucky’s Player of the Year,” Rhodes stated. “It’s surreal to think my name will be listed with my local legend Jimmy Brown. Being recognized for your achievements throughout the year just gives you more self-belief in yourself that you can do it again. My wife said that her name needs to be on the Player of the Year list along with mine, but she’s right! It’s a team achievement, especially with two kids aged 3 and 5 and usually having to travel more than three hours to play most tournaments.”
“There were a lot of things that had to go right for me to win this award. First, the coronavirus limiting my work schedule meant I was able to play more events and practice more than I normally would. Second, USGA Championships and their qualifiers being canceled meant I got to play more events in Kentucky. This was the first time I’ve ever played the Match Play, State Am, Mid-Am, and the State Open all in the same year. Third, just a stream of great play throughout the season leading to those high finishes. And fourth, a great Mid-Am crew who were my competitors, but at the same time they were cheering me on for Player of the Year the whole way. All I can say is that I’m honored.”
The Women’s Player of the Year is Lauren Hartlage. The Elizabethtown product, Louisville Cardinal and past champion of the Kentucky Women’s Open is currently ranked 66th in the WAGR. Part of her work this season that has helped her reach that mark included finishing runner-up in the Kentucky Women’s Open and qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in Maryland. Hartlage also would have been in the field for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur for the second straight year had the event not been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her golf game remains one of the strongest in the region though, having won the Golfweek Purdue Amateur in her most recent start back in October.
“I am honored to receive the award as the KGA’s Women’s Player of the Year,” Hartlage said. “I have worked very hard on my game these past several months. With the limited amount of tournaments to play, I was still able to have a solid finish in the Kentucky Women’s Open while also making another appearance in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of my family and I would like to thank them for always believing in me through the good and bad. I’m looking forward to finishing up my final college season and hopefully turning professional in the fall of 2021.”
Receiving the Herbie McGuire Mid-Senior Player of the Year for Kentucky’s top player between the ages of 40 and 49 is Andy Roberts of Owensboro. Roberts, one of the most prolific amateur golfers in recent history within the state, had another outstanding season. Perhaps the highlight came in September at Big Spring Country Club at the 2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball qualifier where Roberts shot 65 (-7) with his own ball, helping him and Rob Crockett II qualify for next spring’s tournament at Chambers Bay outside of Seattle. Prior to that qualifier, some of Roberts’ top results included a runner-up finish in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Amateur, a T5 finish in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Mid-Amateur, plus a T15 result in the 101st Kentucky Open.
“I’m very honored to win this award,” Roberts said. “It was a strange season with all that has gone on because of the pandemic, but the highlights of the year for me were the runner-up finish at the State Am and qualifying four the Four-Ball Championship with Robbie Crockett. I’m looking forward to more of a normal tournament season and schedule in 2021.”
Tom Campbell is the Tom Musselman Player of the Year, recognizing the top player between the ages of 50 and 59. Campbell, a Taylorsville resident, was also a constant fixture at the top of leaderboards throughout the season. Among them were runner-up finishes in the Kentucky Senior Open, the Kentucky Senior Amateur, the Kentucky Senior Match Play Championship, and the Kentucky Senior Team Championship. Campbell also notched the highest finish for any senior golfer in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Amateur where he placed T24. In spite of several close calls, Campbell is able to take this prize and rightfully so after a terrific run of play.
“Although I did not win an event on the senior circuit this season, I was consistent,” Campbell explained. "I really enjoyed my first year on the senior circuit, playing against outstanding competition and gentlemen that I respect greatly. I look forward to next season, but as a beginning amateur in the state of Kentucky over thirty years ago, I always had a great deal of respect for Tom Musselman and enjoyed playing with him for many years. Because of this, I am beyond honored to win the Tom Musselman Award as the KGA’s Senior Player of the Year.”
The Dale Barnstable Award recipient is Greg Engle of Lexington. This award highlights the top golfer between the ages of 60 and 69 and Engle certainly was that in 2020. He won the Master Division title in the Kentucky Senior Amateur where a red-hot final round of 67 (-5) pushed him to the top of the ladder at Danville Country Club. Additionally, Engle picked up victories in the KGA Am Series tournament at The Standard Club with a round of 69 (-3) and the KGA Invitational at Audubon Country Club thanks to a 75 (+3) which won in a scorecard playoff.
“First off, this award is truly about Dale Barnstable,” Engle described. “I was honored to know Dale and he represented the very best aspects of golf. I got to play golf with him a few times and it’s an honor to have my name associated with him. He is the epitome of what golf is all about. The way I played in the final round of the Senior Amateur where I shot 67 certainly stands out when looking back on this season and I’m very proud of that round. But I played well all year - I putted extremely well and hit a lot of fairways as well. It was a year where the hole just got in the way.”
Rounding out the 2020 season’s Players of the Year is Rick Cain. Cain is presented with the Don Smith Player of the Year award, commemorating the top player for the season aged 70 or older. Continuing the prevalent theme of being near first all year, Cain had runner-up finishes in the Kentucky Senior Amateur plus KGA Am Series events at Polo Fields Golf & Country Club plus The Standard Club. Cain did, however, get a win in the Legends Division of the Kentucky Senior Team Championship at Bardstown Country Club. A total score of 140 (-4) alongside partner Terry Bowman led to a sudden-death playoff victory for them in the season-opening event.
The Kentucky Golf Association congratulates all six players on these awards and their decorated 2020 seasons. The KGA appreciates the participation of each player in its tournaments and thanks them for their quality representation of the state of Kentucky and its golfers when playing beyond the Commonwealth.