West Allis, WI – The Wisconsin Section of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America is excited to officially announce its 2018 OMEGA Players of the Year. The Wisconsin Section is made up of over 500 PGA members and associates from throughout the state and part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Player of the Year races got underway back on May 7th at Wild Rock GC. The races then concluded in the middle of September for the members and later in the fall for the assistants and seniors, once their respective national championships had concluded. Up for grabs were awards in three different categories, member, senior and assistant. Earning the prestigious titles for 2018 in each category were Jim Schuman (member and senior) and Mick Smith (assistant / WAGPA – Wisconsin Assistant Golf Professional Association). All three races were presented by OMEGA watches.
A first-class playing resume became that much more impressive after another award-winning season by Madison native Jim Schuman. After becoming the first WPGA member on record to claim both the OMEGA WPGA player of the year and senior player of the year honors in the same season in 2017, the 55-year-old performed the feat once again.
On paper, the results will show a similar result and margin from year to year, but the road to the titles for Schuman was definitely different.
In 2017 he used some unforgettable wins to get the job done in the member race, while 2018 was highlighted by a great run of consistency and a very important national finish.
The PGA director of instruction at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club once again got his year off to a nice start. Over the course of the first month of the season, he produced top two finishes in the first two-stroke play competitions, advanced through the first three rounds of the WPGA Match Play, and carded a top six finish at the Hornung’s Classic. Next up for Schuman was a trip to the PGA Professional Championship. Over the course of the four days he was the lone representative from the Wisconsin Section to make both cuts and in the end, he was able to finish in a tie for 38th. His great play on the national level helped him jump out to almost a 200 point lead in the member point race.
“To earn those points nationally was such a key,” Schuman said about the member race.
Over the course of the next few months, the two-time Wisconsin State Open champion would hold on to that lead and post another top two finish at the Prestwick Golf Group Classic, a top 15 finish at the Wisconsin State Open, and navigated his way through two more rounds of the WPGA Match Play.
However, that lead would be just about cut in half as David Roesch was able to defeat Schuman in the finals of the WPGA Match Play in early September. The win by Roesch would put him within striking distance as the duo headed to the final point event of the season, the WPGA Professional Championship.
With the member player of the year race on the line, the two players would find themselves paired together during the final round and each with a shot to win the championship. Over the course of the 18 holes, they would battle it out along with several others for the win. In the end, each player came up just short, as Joe Leonard would close strong and grab the win, leaving Roesch in second place and Schuman in third.
“So many things go on during an event, you’re definitely cognizant of the situation and thinking about how it affects the player of the year race,” Schuman said during a phone interview.
With only a small amount of ground gained by Roesch, the final tally in the member race was Schuman with 1215 points to Roesch’s 1137.5.
On the senior side of things, Schuman was able to run the table by earning victories at all three of the Wisconsin PGA’s major senior championships, the WPGA Senior Match Play, Wisconsin Senior PGA Professional Championship, and Wisconsin State Senior Open. His play was so good at the Wisconsin State Senior Open that he was the only player in the sixty-eight player field to finish under par, giving him a seven-shot win.
He also was able to be the low senior professional at six other events that were eligible for senior points. The highlight of that great run came at the local U.S. Senior Open qualifier as he claimed the medalist spot for the second straight season and another trip to the nation’s top senior event.
“By far winning our senior events on the local level tops my national finishes last year,” Schuman said. “To win these awards two years in a row in two different ways is very special”
Schuman has now earned WPGA player of the year honors five times (he also did it in 2001, ’02, ’11 and last year). The WPGA senior player of the year honor is his fourth straight.
With his PGA membership in sight WPGA associate Mick Smith put together quite the season en route to the 2018 OMEGA WAGPA Player of the Year award. The native Australian earned over 1000 points and his margin over second-place finisher Andy Hansen was more than 250 points.
He became just the fourth player in the past 25 years to win both the WPGA assistant professional match play and stroke play titles in the same season. The win at the National Car Rental WAGPA Stroke Play Championship came in a dominant fashion as he posted a 7-under-par 137 at the Pines Course at Lake Arrowhead GC. The score was good enough to win by five shots over his nearest pursuers. Nice finishes at the WAGPA Stroke Play, Prestwick Golf Group Classic, WSGA/WPGA Summer Showdown, and the Wisconsin State Open also helped along the way.
“It was a great year, I’m very happy to have won both championships,” Smith said. “The wins definitely help for the future as I move into the PGA member-only events.”
For Smith, the honor marks the second time that he’s captured an Assistant Player of the Year award, with his other accolade coming in the Illinois Section in 2014.
“In Illinois I recall it being a very consistent year as I finished in the top 5 in a lot of events,” Smith said. “This past season winning was such a big part of the year.”
All the 2018 WPGA Players of the Year will be honored at the WPGA special awards reception in early March in conjunction with the WPGA spring membership meeting. The ceremony will take place on Monday, March 4th at Wilderness Resort & Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells.