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DALLAS – The Texas Golf Association is pleased to announce its 2018 Players of the Year. This year’s honorees are Mitchell Meissner of San Antonio, Texas Men’s Player of the Year; Amber Park of Allen, Texas Women’s Player of the Year; Lewis Stephenson of Mansfield, Texas Senior Player of the Year; Christopher Wheeler of Addison, North Texas Player of the Year; and Jacob Davis of Cibolo, South Texas Player of the Year presented by Impact Precision Golf.
The Legends Junior Tour, which operates under the TGA umbrella, also recently announced its 2018 Players of the Year. Thomas Bockholt III of Austin won the Boys 15-18 award; Houston’s Zoe Slaughter was the LJT Girls 12-18 Player of the Year; and Andrew Petruzzelli of Dallas took home the Boys 14 & Under honors.
To determine the winners in each category, the TGA and LJT utilize yearlong cumulative performance points systems, in which individuals earn points for top finishes in designated regional, statewide and USGA national championships.
Mitchell Meissner of San Antonio had a New Year’s resolution to do something about his mediocre putting. At the start of 2018, Meissner, a right-handed golfer, decided to try putting left-handed after all other methods had failed. He started noticing an improvement by mid-year and with newfound confidence on the greens began his run to the top of the Texas Men’s Player of the Year race.
Meissner, a member of Oak Hills Country Club, first started racking up points in May by finishing as co-medalist in U.S. Open Local Qualifying. The new left-handed method was fully validated in June when he used a hot putter to capture the 109th Texas Amateur Championship at Whispering Pines Golf Club with a 72-hole score of 6-under-par 282. In addition to winning the state’s oldest and most prestigious amateur championship, the victory earned Meissner 1,250 performance points.
Three weeks after winning the Texas Amateur, Meissner collected more points by qualifying for the 118th U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach.
Meissner, a recent graduate from Rice University, finished with a total of 1,550 points for 2018. His brother, McClure Meissner, who finished tied for third place in the Texas Amateur, amassed 1,250 points to nail down second place the final Texas Men’s standings.
It only took one tournament for Amber Park to accumulate enough points to be named Texas Women’s Player of the Year, but she could not have picked a better one in which to excel.
The Women’s Texas Amateur, conducted since 1916, is the most prominent event on the Texas Women’s annual schedule. Park reached the Round of 16 in the 2016 Women’s Texas Amateur at Brook Hollow Golf Club and made it to the semifinals in last year’s championship at Traditions Club. With that level of success thus far, she was determined to make the most of this summer’s 97th edition at historic San Antonio Country Club.
Fresh off a 10-day break for summer vacation, Park admitted she wasn’t sure where her game was as she arrived in San Antonio. It was in fine shape, as it turned out. Park carded a one-over-par 73 in the 18-hole qualifying round. She finished tied for fourth place and advanced to the match play portion of the championship. A sophomore at Texas A&M and member of the Legends Junior Tour, Park displayed brilliant ball-striking and unwavering nerves all week in spite of the extended layoff. It culminated in a 4-and-3 Championship Match victory against Prestonwood Christian Academy-Plano senior Julia Gregg of Farmers Branch.
Park earned 100 performance points for her victory in the Women’s Texas Amateur, which put her in the No. 1 position in the Player of the Year points standing at the end of July, with a number of points-earning events left to play. That gave others a total score to try to topple for the remainder of the year, but none could accomplish the feat. Gurleen Kaur of Houston accumulated 90 points to claim second place.
Lewis Stephenson, a longtime member of Walnut Creek Country Club in Mansfield, has chalked up numerous top finishes over the years in various TGA regional and statewide championships. Regarded as one of the state’s best mid-amateur players, Stephenson, now with his second Senior Player of the Year title in three years, seems poised to be a frontrunner in the over age 55 crowd too.
Stephenson captured the state’s biggest senior prize in 2018, the Texas Senior Amateur. In late September, on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at The Hills Country Club in Austin, Stephenson carded a brilliant final round 5-under-par 67 to storm back from a four-shot deficit to win the title. It was his second Senior Amateur trophy in three years. He won the 2016 championship at Escondido Golf & Lake Club in his first year of senior eligibility.
Stephenson’s play was equally impressive in his other 2018 outings. He finished tied for second place in both the North Senior and West Texas Senior Amateurs, and was T5 in the Texas Mid-Amateur Championship.
Stephenson earned 2,325 points in 2018, a comfortable margin ahead of Mike Booker of The Woodlands, a three-time Senior Player of the Year, who ended the year with 1,450 points.
Christopher Wheeler never finished worse than fourth place in his three North Regional championship appearances in 2018. It was his repeated position atop the leaderboard that proved key to winning North Regional Player of the Year honors.
To open the season in February, Wheeler and partner Derek Abel finished tied for second place in the North Texas Four-Ball. Wheeler, who plays out of the Medalist Golf Club, then in March had a T4 showing at the North Texas Mid-Amateur.
At the North Texas Amateur in August, held on the Dye Course at Stonebridge Ranch in McKinney, Wheeler made up four shots in the final round with a one-under-par 71 to tie 36-hole leader Travis Woolf of Fort Worth at the end of regulation play. Wheeler’s hopes for ending his North Regional campaign with a victory were dashed when Woolf chipped in for birdie on the first playoff hole to win the title.
Wheeler’s solo second place finish at the North Texas Amateur was worth 800 performance points and boosted his yearend total to 1,575 points. Woolf finished second in the North Regional Player of the Year standings with 1,397.5 points.
SOUTH TEXAS POY presented by Impact Precision Golf
After spending the majority of 2017 recovering from a difficult surgery, Jacob Davis, a member at The Club of Sonterra, rebounded in a big way in 2018 by winning the South Regional Player of the Year award.
In March, in his first tournament outing in nearly a year, Davis finished a respectable T29th at the South Mid-Amateur presented by Impact Precision Golf. Four months later, though, he stood in the winner’s circle at the South Amateur presented by Impact Precision Golf held on Fair Oaks Ranch’s Live Oak Course. Tied with Chad Sewell after regulation play with matching 11-under-par 205 totals, Davis drained a clutch birdie putt on the first playoff hole to secure a most gratifying victory.
Davis ended the year with a total of 1,066.67 points. Tied for second with 900 points were Broc Haymon of Pearland and Ryan Clarke of Houston.
Austin’s Thomas Bockholt III, who is committed to Rice University to play golf after he graduates high school in 2019, played in 12 Texas Junior Golf Alliance events in 2018. He scored two wins and five other top-5 finishes on the Legends Junior Tour.
Bockholt’s first win was earned at the Spring Preview in March, when he posted rounds of 74-66 to get to 140 overall. That was three strokes better than the next player in the field. His second win of the year was at the season-ending Texas Cup Invitational at Ridglea Country Club. He shot 71-69 and made birdie on the first playoff hole to secure his second victory of the year and his position as Boys 15-18 Division Player of the Year.
Bockholt ended the year with a total of 7,725 points in the Boys 15-18 Division. Finishing second in the standings was Conner Adams of Dallas with 4,382 points.
Houston’s Zoe Slaughter, who is committed to the University of Houston to play golf after she graduates high school in 2020, played in seven Texas Junior Golf Alliance events in 2018.
She played consistently all season and finished within the top five in six LJT events, including three runner-up performances. The first came at the James A. Ragan Memorial in February, followed by the Collegiate Preview in March and then she tied for second at the Fall Challenge in October.
Slaughter finished the year with 4,550 points in the Girls 12-18 Division. Elise Parel of Kingwood finished behind Slaughter in the standings with 4,213 points.
Dallas native Andrew Petruzzelli played in 13 Texas Junior Golf Alliance events in 2018, including 10 LJT tournaments.
The 2023 high school graduate finished runner-up twice on the LJT, first at the Bluebonnet Championship at Brownwood Country Club in May and then again at the Texas Junior Amateur at Horseshoe Bay Resort in July. He also finished tied for fourth at the George Hannon Junior Invitational and fifth at the Lanny Wadkins Junior Championship.
Petruzzelli finished with 5,824 points in the Boys 14 & Under Standings. Keaton Vo of Austin finished second in the standings with 5,550 points.