Kentucky PGA Junior Tour Announces the 2023 Players of the Year
LOUISVILLE, KY (November 3, 2023) – Following stellar performances across all divisions this season, the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour is excited to announce its 2023 Players of the Year. Each player receiving this honor accumulated the most points in their respective division throughout the 36-event season and will receive a golf bag to commemorate their accomplishment.
After a major win at the final event of the season, the Lou Perry Tour Championship, just a few weeks ago, Glasgow’s Jameson Corbin takes the Boys 16-18 Player of the Year honors. Corbin had an outstanding and steady season on the Junior Tour this year, posting top 3 finishes in each event he played. He fired a 71.3 scoring average across all tournament rounds from 2023, with his season win coming at the Lou Perry after matching even-par rounds of 72. This was the Barren County High School senior’s last full season on the Junior Tour, as he begins his freshman year playing for Eastern Kentucky University in the fall of 2024.
“I am truly honored to be named the Junior Player of the Year,” states Corbin. “I want to thank Golf House Kentucky enough for putting on these amazing tournaments at top-tier venues, allowing all players to grow their game. With that said, I can't thank my coaches and family enough, who have supported me the whole way through. This accomplishment means a lot to me and is something I will never forget!"
The Lou Perry Championship winner for the Girls 16-18 division is also the Player of the Year in her division, with Anika Okuda taking the title for 2023. This fantastic major win launched her 11 spots up the rankings to beat the 2022 Player of the Year in the division, Athena Singh. 15-year-old Okuda, playing up a division, finished in the top 20 at every tournament this season and in the top 5 at all but one. The Ryle High School sophomore’s sole win came at the Lou Perry, with top 5 finishes at the 203 KPGAJT Season Kick-Off, Spring Classic, and the Northern Kentucky Junior Championship.
“It is truly an honor to be Player of the Year. After winning this title, I reflect on all the hard work I have put in throughout the off-season to get to this point,” notes Okuda. “I would like to thank the KPGAJT for always putting on great tournaments where I can play and practice my game. As I reflect on my season, looking back from the same time last year, I improved a total of 23 strokes, shooting 95-85 last year and 79-78 this year at the Lou Perry Tour Championship. I was motivated last off-season to improve my scores. I worked very hard every day to improve my game, with results showing this. With continuing to practice and improve, I truly believe hard work pays way off and can’t wait for what is next to come.”
It was a battle between the Luke’s/Luc’s for the Boys 13-15 Player of the Year title, with Luke Bryant ultimately winning the title. It was the Lou Perry Tour Championship that propelled Bryant to the top of the standings after firing a second-day score of 69, which tied his season-low round. Bryant finished in the top 10 at every event he played this season, winning two tournaments at the KPGAJT Team Championship in April, with partner Jacob Rafferty, and the 44th Boys Junior Amateur in July in a tight race to the finish, recording six birdies in his final round. He compiled a scoring average of 73.07 this year, firing three sub-70 rounds.
“I am honored to have earned Player of the Year. I am grateful to God, my family, my coach Cory Kaufman (The Golf Academy), the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour, and all the great competitors,” remarks Bryant. “The highlight of my season was winning the Kentucky Boys Junior Amateur 13-15 division and playing in the Kentucky Open! I will continue to work on improving my game, and I look forward to next season.”
A win at the Lou Perry Tour Championship launched Samantha Abell to the top of the Girls 13-15 Player of the Year rankings after previously sitting in second. Abell accumulated top 10 finishes in all tournaments she competed in this year, grabbing second place at the 44th Girls Junior Amateur in July and a win at the Lou Perry earlier this month, with rounds of 79-76. Abell had a steady season, with her rounds staying within a few shots of each other.
“I want to thank you and all of the Kentucky Junior PGA staff for hosting great events all season long. I put in a lot of work between spring and fall and felt like that work paid off at the end of the season,” says Abell. “Winning the Lou Perry and Player of the Year are definitely highlights of 2023. Golf has allowed me to meet so many other girls, see new courses, and make memories. I hope to play golf in college one day. I know I still have a lot of areas of my game that need improvement - both mental and physical, but I look forward to playing more events next year and continuing to work on my game.”
The only player to crack 1000 points for his division, Jack Burrice takes home the Boys 11-12 Player of the Year title. Playing in 9 events in 2023, Burrice placed in the top 3 at each one and won five of the nine - the KPGAJT Team Championship with partner Austin Britt, the Junior Classic at Seneca, the 9-Hole Boys Junior Amateur, the Fall Series at Clear Creek and the Lou Perry Tour Championship. He had a very steady season in terms of scoring, as well, shooting in the 40s just twice in 14 rounds. Burrice claims his division POY title by an impressive 206.67 point margin.
Reflecting on this season and looking to the future, Burrice looks to a prominent golfer from the Commonwealth: “When thinking about my past year and upcoming year, I think of a quote from my favorite golfer, Justin Thomas: ‘I feel like the sky's the limit. I can do a lot of great things, but none of them will happen if I don't continue to work hard.’”
A late-season push for Mary Clayton Rodgers saw her come out victorious in the Girls 10-12 division Player of the Year race. Accumulating 1115 points for the season across 11 events, Rodgers placed in either first or second at every event and won eight times, most recently at the Lou Perry Tour Championship. Her best outing came in May at the 75th Junior Falls Cities Championship, where she fired 37-36-73 for a two-day total of one over par. She improved steadily over the course of the season, evident in her lower scores towards the end of the season.
“Winning the KJGA player of the year in my age group means a lot to me. It was one of my goals for the 2023 season,” Rodgers comments. “I have played on the tour for the last few years and have made some good friends and memories. The tour has motivated me to be a better player because the competition is so good. It has also helped me better prepare for my first year as a high school player. I really enjoy traveling to all the tournament locations around the state, and I appreciate the KPGAJT’s staff hosting some top-notch events. I am looking forward to the 2024 season.”
Accumulating an impressive 1310 points over the course of his 21-event season, Max DeHaven takes the Boys 10 & Under Player of the Year honors by a nearly 400-point margin. Placing no worse than third, DeHaven won 14 of his 21 events, with his best score coming at the 2023 Calvert City Classic in July with a 3-under total of 69. DeHaven’s improvement over the course of the year is clear, firing no worse than 41 in his last ten events.
“I learned so many lessons this season, especially how important it is to stay calm and confident,” DeHaven expresses. “When I stayed calm, I did so much better in tournaments. I am always working on believing in myself when I get on the course. One of the highlights of the season for me was the Middle School Qualifier at Calvert City. I shot +1, and I was so excited! I also shot -3 for the 2-day tournament at Calvert City. I have had some really great moments on that golf course. Being Player of the Year means a lot to me. It is a big reward for a lot of practice and hard work, and I feel really lucky to get this award.”
In the Girls 9 & Under division, Kylie Miller takes home the title for the second year in a row by a close to 300-point margin. Kylie played in seven tournaments this year, winning five - the Independence Bank WKY Junior Championship, the Junior Classic at Indian Hills, the Calvert City Classic, the Fall Series at Clear Creek, and the Lou Perry Tour Championship. Her best outing came at Clear Creek, where she fired a 37 to win by nine. Miller won two more tournaments this year than in 2022.
“I think it's AWESOME to be named back-to-back KYPGA Jr Tour Player of the Year for the nine and under division. This year was really difficult for me because mid-year through the season, I fractured my left wrist and had to miss nine weeks,” reflects Miller. “When I came back in the fall, I was so happy to get to play golf again! My favorite snack while playing a round of golf is a bag of chocolate M&M's. During the winter, I plan on continuing to work on my full swing. Thank you to the KYPGA Tour and Golf House Kentucky for the opportunity to play Junior Golf in Kentucky!”
Rounding out the 2023 Players of the Year on the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour is Jamison Welch in the Boys 8 & Under division. Welch had a stellar season this year, claiming 11 wins in his 11 starts, winning ten outright and tying for first in one. His best outing came in July at the Louisville Junior Championship, where he strung together rounds of 32-38 for a total of 2-under 70. His victory at the final tournament of the year, the Lou Perry, helped his points total reach 1310, 395 points ahead of his competition.
"I had a lot of fun playing on the tour this year,” says Welch. “Most of the courses were new to me, so that was really cool. Thank you to the KPGAJT for all of your hard work and for making this tour so great. Thank you to the golf courses that hosted us. Thank you to my family and friends for supporting me, and thank you to coach Gavin Burns for helping me with my game. I am very excited to win player of the year and end my KPGAJT season undefeated."
The Kentucky PGA Junior Tour congratulates each of these players and their families on these awards. The Tour also extends its thanks to them and all players who competed throughout the season for their participation and support of the program!
The 2024 KPGAJT schedule will be released in the coming months.
About Kentucky Junior Golf:
Kentucky Junior Golf is part of the Kentucky Golf Foundation, one of three organizations that comprises Golf House Kentucky. Kentucky Junior Golf includes the state’s top tournaments and programs for the state’s golfers aged 18 or younger, featuring the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour, Youth on Course, the Youth on Course caddie program, PGA Jr. League, and Drive, Chip & Putt. Kentucky Junior Golf is dedicated to introducing Kentucky’s youth to the game of golf, providing resources to further enjoyment within the sport, and developing the skills necessary for players to thrive both on and off the golf course.
Abby Ligons | Golf House Kentucky | email@example.com