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,” Meadow 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.”
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.
Here is 20x20’s first Ambassador film with @StephMeadow20, who last night became the first woman to win IGW Professional of the Year. The encouragement she got from her Dad has played a huge role in her success. Here's to the parents who have supported us.#20x20 #CantSeeCantBe pic.twitter.com/JsIbSxB9ui— 20x20 (@20x20_ie) December 14, 2018
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.
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.
The Distinguished Services to Golf award was presented to Miriam Hand, who is the driving force behind the “Play in Pink” charitable initiative to raise funds in aid of Breast Cancer Research. The initiative has gone from strength to strength in recent years, raising more than €600,000 since 2011. In 2018 alone, in excess of €160,000 was raised at events throughout the country.
Delgany’s Eamonn Darcy, who won the inaugural Professional of the Year Award in 1976, was also present at the dinner and presented with a special memento to mark his career achievements following his recent retirement from the competitive scene.