World No.1 Jason Day has won the Greg Norman Medal for the second consecutive year.
Day, who has held the top spot in the rankings since March, received the award as Australia’s top performing golfer on the world stage in 2016.
The Queenslander won three times this year, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC – World Match Play and the Players Championship. All three victories came in a seven week period starting from mid-March.
In all, Day had 20 PGA Tour starts in 2016 making the cut in all but one for ten top-10 finishes including his wins. He was also runner-up to Jimmy Walker in his defence of the PGA Championship.
His season was, however, cut short by a back injury that saw him withdraw from events late in the FedEx Cup play-offs as well as the Australian Open and World Cup as he recuperates in preparation for next year.
Speaking via Skype from his home in Ohio, Day said the injury has been frustrating because he was really looking forward to coming home to play but staying home to rest and rehab his ailing back was in his best long-term interests.
“I miss Australia so much … I miss it like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “I haven’t been there for three years and it’s not going to be another year until I’m back … it’s been so long.
“The back is coming along nicely. The hard thing about the position I’m in, no matter what I do, I’m not going to please everyone … so not playing in Australia is a disappointment to some.
“But they’ve just got to understand I’m in this for the long run. These things have to take time and when it comes to injuries I have to try and not push myself too much. Look at this week, Tiger Woods is coming and it’s been 16 months from the last time we saw him. So, I’m OK having a few months off but not 16 months from golf, especially at a young age, I just can’t do.”
Day beat out fellow Queenslander Adam Scott – a two-time PGA Tour winner in 2016 – and Minjee Lee, who won on the LPGA Tour.
“I am incredibly honoured to win the Greg Norman Medal for the second year in a row,” Day said. "Australian golf is in a great place right now, Adam and Minjee both had excellent seasons, so to be selected again is a real privilege.
"I am really appreciative of everyone’s efforts back home in Australia. My mum and sister are with you tonight. Also to Peter O’Malley and the PGA of Australia, I just want to thank everyone and especially Greg ... what you have done for the game in Australia and around the world, I just want to thank everyone for making this possible for me."
Day’s mother, Dening, accepted the award on behalf of her son, while Greg Norman – also on video link – paid tribute to Day as a fine ambassador of the game.
The Greg Norman Medal Dinner at RACV Royal Pines, which will host this week’s Australian PGA, also saw PGA Life Member and five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson elevated to Immortal status.
Thomson, the winner of 89 tournament titles during his illustrious career, was also Chairman of the PGA of Australia for 32 years.
The 87-year-old was on hand with his wife, Mary, to accept the award.
Other awards presented on the evening honoured touring, club and teaching professionals. The award winners included:
2016 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Player of the Year: Adam Blyth (pictured right).
2016 ALPG Player of the Year: Stacey Keating.
2016 PGA National Club Professional of the Year: Ryan and Janelle Smith (Charlestown Golf Club, NSW)
2016 PGA National Teaching Professional of the Year: Richard Woodhouse (Director of Instruction KDV-Sport Academy of Golf, Gold Coast)
2016 PGA National Trainee Professional of the Year: Luke Bleumink (Rosanna GC, Melbourne).