Canadian Tour Announces 2011 Award Winners

– Jose de Jesus Rodriguez Leads Pack with Rolex Player of the Year Honours –

The Canadian Tour has named their award winners for the 2011 season.

On Tuesday, January 31st The Canadian Tour announced the following award winners for the 2011 Canadian Tour season. Leading the charge with Rolex Player of the Year honours is Mexico’s Jose de Jesus Rodriguez.

Rodriguez began the Canadian Tour season ablaze with wins in his native land of Mexico at the Mexican PGA Championship as well as the first Canadian event on the schedule at the Times Colonist Island Savings Victoria Open. With his Player of Year win, Rodriguez becomes the first Mexican born player to capture that honour.

“I am extremely honoured to be named the Player of the Year,” admitted Rodriguez. “2011 was a real break through year for me and I hope that I can build on the momentum from what I consider to be my best season as a Professional,” continued Rodriguez.

Rodriguez finished the season with three top 10’s as well as two top 15 showings and was nine for 10 in cuts made. The 30-year-old Mexican won just over $80,000 in 10 events which was just over $13,000 more than Chile’s Hugo Leon who finished second on the order of merit.

“The Canadian Tour is such a great place to play and learn the life of a touring professional,” added Rodriguez, who resides in Irapuato, Mexico, which is about three hours north of Mexico City. “My goal is to get to the PGA TOUR and if I can keep playing well on the Canadian Tour I think it will definitely help me accomplish that,” admitted Rodriguez who will make his debut on the PGA TOUR Latino America later this year.

Claiming Canadian Rookie of the Year honours was Thornhill, Ont. Native Matt Hoffman. Hoffman began the season slow but had a solid showing at the Tour Championship (T8) as well as the Seaforth Country Classic (T18) edging Comox, BC native Riley Wheeldon for rookie honours.

“I am very honoured to win this award and I have to admit it was totally unexpected,” said Hoffman, from his winter home in Orlando. “Winning this award gives me a lot of confidence especially after the strong finish I had to the season on the Canadian Tour,” added Hoffman, a University of Illinois graduate.

International Rookie of the Year went to Meridian, ID native Joe Panzeri. Panzeri made headlines when he claimed the Dakota Dunes Casino Open in just his sixth start on the Canadian Tour. Panzeri went on to finish in 10th spot on the Canadian Tour Order of Merit and made his PGA TOUR debut at the RBC Canadian Open through an exemption granted to the top five Order of Merit leaders prior to the Open commencing. The former University of Washington student also made his debut on the Nationwide Tour playing in the Boise Open and the Fresh Express Classic.

“You only get one shot to be the rookie of the year and I’m excited that I was able to win this prestigious award,” said Panzeri from Scottsdale where he was preparing for the Monday Qualifier at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. “One of my goals at the start of the season was to win this award and it feels good to know that my hard work paid off,” added the 25-year-old.

The Gordon Brydson Most Improved Player of the Year Award presented by Agnico Eagle goes to Danny Sahl of Sherwood Park, AB. The 32-year-old moved up 22 positions on the 2011 Order of Merit and improved his stroke average by .73 strokes. Sahl also picked up his first win in 79 tries after claiming the inaugural Syncrude Boreal Open and also posted a solo third effort at the Dakota Dunes Casino Open.

“If you look back at when I first gained full status on the Canadian Tour in 2002, I have gotten better every single season.  My scoring average has improved as has my belief in myself,” admitted Sahl.  “It has taken me a lot of years to realize my potential and I want to thank my coach Cam Martens from Windermere C.C.  We have worked hard on my swing and mental approach to my game and it’s beginning to pay off,” added Sahl.

The ‘Srixon Stroke Average Award’, which is awarded to the player that accumulates the lowest scoring average on the season, based on a minimum of three events played, was Alberta native Dustin Risdon. Risdon was a specimen of consistency this season making eight of eight cuts and posting four top 10’s and finishing sixth on the Order of Merit.

“I played quite well over the course of the season and as I look back on it, I feel proud that I was able to stay focused for the duration of the year,” said Risdon, who recently relocated to the Dallas area from New Mexico. “I was disappointed not to win on tour this year but to win this award definitely gives me a sense of accomplishment for 2011,” added Risdon, who is a three-time winner on the Canadian Tour.

Past Canadian Tour award winners include a who’s who of Canadian golf highlighted by Dave Barr, Brent Franklin, Jerry Anderson, Jim Rutledge, David Morland IV, Byran DeCorso, David Hearn, Jon Mills, Chris Baryla, Graham DeLaet and Mike Weir who claimed 1993 Rookie of the Year honours as well as Player of the Year in 1997. The list of international winners is equally impressive and includes Chris Dimarco, Ken Duke, Arron Oberholser, Hank Kuehne, Brandt Jobe, Erik Compton, Jeff Quinney, Spencer Levin and Stephen Gangluff to name a few.