From the PGA

Ryan Vermeer, Bob Sowards, Joanna Coe capture PGA Professional Player of the Year Awards

By PGA of America
Published on

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska and Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, each crafted a season of enviable consistency while Joanna Coe of Lutherville Timonium, Maryland, made history in capturing the respective 2019 OMEGA PGA Professional, Senior and Women's PGA Professional Player of the Year awards.

They will be honored on Friday, April 24, in conjunction with the 53rd PGA Professional Championship presented by Club Car and OMEGA at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.

The 2018 PGA Professional Champion, Vermeer, the PGA Director of Instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Nebraska, won his second consecutive national award during a season that included winning a third Nebraska PGA Section Championship, an event at Arbor Links in Nebraska City, where he blazed to a 54-hole scoring record. Vermeer also finished tied for eighth in the PGA Professional Championship and tied for 80th in the PGA Championship.

Vermeer’s 2019 season included winning a third straight Nebraska PGA Player of the Year award and finishing T-69 in the PGA Tour’s Puntacana Corales Championship in the Dominican Republic. He collected 962.975 total points, while Marty Jertson of Phoenix, Arizona, was runner-up with 816. Danny Balin of Irvington, New York, (800) was third and Rod Perry of Port Orange, Florida, (786.25) fourth.

Vermeer, 41, said his 2019 season had special “bookends” – events that bolstered his confidence and where he didn’t score a Player of the Year point - winning the TaylorMade Golf National Championship in March at Pebble Beach and helping the United States recapture the PGA Cup in September in Austin, Texas.

“It’s been another awesome year on the golf course. My game held up pretty well considering I was playing in some high-level competition,” said Vermeer. ”To be able to come back and win an award like this – once is incredible – but to win a second year in a row is something that not many have been able to do. I am extremely proud and honored to be able to do it.

Sowards, 51, is the PGA Director of Instruction at the Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio, and collected a record-tying sixth career PGA Professional Player of the Year award – including the past two in the senior circuit. He was the PGA Professional Player of the Year in 2003, ’04, ’05 and ’14. Sowards matched Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Georgia, with six overall Player of the Year Awards.

The 2004 PGA Professional Champion, Sowards’ 2019 campaign included sharing Low PGA Club Professional honors by finished tied for 21st in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.

Sowards earned 1,007.833 points, while Jeff Hart of Solana Beach, California, was runner-up with 865.111; Stuart Smith of Reno, Nevada, third (801.5); and Omar Uresti of Austin, Texas, fourth (656.350).

Reaping success among his 50-and-under peers, Sowards also tied for eighth in the Senior PGA Professional Championship; tied for 25th in the PGA Professional Championship; won a second straight Section Senior Player of the Year and Senior Section Championship; and in December won the final event of the PGA Tournament Series.

Like Vermeer, there was a defining moment for Sowards in 2019 that didn’t figure into the Player of the Year standings. It happened on Sept. 29, on the 18th hole of Sunday Singles in the PGA Cup at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.

Needing to win his match to give the U.S. any hope of rallying against Great Britain & Ireland, Sowards hit a gap wedge pitch downhill to a near-blind flagstick. The ball didn’t stop rolling until it fell in the cup for an eagle and a 1-up victory over GB&I’s Alastair Forsyth.

“That was the biggest moment in my golfing life. To win my singles match and getting the Cup back for us was great,” said Sowards. “Winning a Player of the Year award is always special and to win a sixth is pretty cool. I’m very honored."

Coe, a 30-year-old Assistant PGA Director of Instruction at Baltimore Country Club, completed a memorable season to earn the inaugural Women's PGA Professional Player of the Year Award.

Coe won the 2019 PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship last winter and was one of four women to earn a berth in the PGA Professional Championship in May at Belfair in Bluffton, South Carolina, where she finished T-51.

In August, she went on to share fifth place in the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals National Championship and won a fourth consecutive Middle Atlantic PGA Section Women’s Player of the Year Award. She also was a member of the victorious five-member United States team in the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup in Austin, Texas.

Coe finished with 565.5 total points, while Seul-Ki Park of Winchester, Massachusetts, was runner-up with 346.667. Brittany Kelly of Indianapolis, Indiana (272.5) was third and Ashley Grier of Springfield, Pennsylvania, was fourth (269.167).

“To be included in some of the great history of the PGA of America and be the first Women's PGA Professional Player of the Year is truly special,” said Coe. “It’s a highlight considering how long the PGA has been around and how important it is for the game of golf. It’s really cool; it’s something I will be proud of for the rest of my life.”

A former member of the Symetra Tour (2012-15) Coe is no stranger to rising above a barrier. She twice tore an ACL in her right knee as a soccer player, and tempers her training when it comes to golf. As for her 2019 golf season, she labeled it “unexpectedly amazing.”

Last January, Coe fired an 8-under-par 64 on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club to propel her to the PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship.

“To shoot a 64 in competition when I don’t play for a living anymore was pretty special,” said Coe. “I had never played the Ryder Course before. It was one of those days. I hit the accelerator and kept going.”

Coe competed in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota and turned in a memorable second-round 73 to honor her maternal grandmother's passing that morning.

Coe said the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup was “college golf, Olympic style. It was a great way to end my year.” This season, Coe will make a return appearance in the PGA Professional Championship.

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