2023 Women's Players of the Year Announced
BROOMALL, Pa. – Duke University junior Rylie Heflin of Bidermann Golf Club had a goal: to win the Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur. Heflin came so close in 2022 (a runner-up finish) but would have another chance at it in 2023. She made a late charge up the leaderboard and earned a dramatic win in the 87th Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur at Sunnehanna Country Club, earning enough points (350) to be named the 2023 Carol Semple Thompson Women’s Amateur Player of the Year.
“It’s pretty surreal,” said Heflin. “It’s truly an honor to be named Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur Golfer of the Year. It’s been a goal of mine for years to have won the Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur, and to have come so close last year, it means even more to me to come out on top this year.”
Heflin carded the lowest round of the tournament (a blistering four-under-par 70) on the final day that included a pair of eagles (on the first and 17th holes) that allowed her to catch Jericho National Country Club's Natasha Kiel (a junior at Purdue University) and force a playoff. Heflin won the first playoff hole to secure the victory.
“For most of the event I knew I wasn’t in the lead but before the last two holes I did proceed to check my phone to see where I stood,” said Heflin. “I saw I was a couple shots back and knew I had to make a move. I was able to do exactly that, and had the same mindset all week, which was to stay present and stay calm. When I was younger I may not have enjoyed the pressure like that, but I’ve learned that it all comes with the sport and I have to embrace it.”
Joining Heflin as a 2023 year-end award winner is Commonwealth National Golf Club’s Karen Siegel, who earns the Connie Shorb Senior Women’s Player of the Year award after finishing atop the points standings with a total of 465. Siegel won the Senior Division at the PA Women’s Amateur (shooting three-over-par for the tournament in difficult conditions), earned a runner-up finish in the PA Women’s Four-Ball (with partner Alexandra Frazier from Gulph Mills Golf Club), and was a PA Senior Match-Play Semifinalist. Siegel, an assistant coach for the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s golf program, never stops working on her game, helping herself and her team to make continual progress.
“There's always room for improvement so I try to lead by example with them and they know how passionate I am about the game and how much I love to work on it,” said Siegel. “We're always having skill challenges and things like that. When I joined Commonwealth, I had never really played golf before and didn’t realize how hard that golf course is. But it’s amazing and it just makes me better. Between representing Commonwealth and the Penn women’s team, coming up with this award makes me really proud. I’m humbled and the whole nine yards, it’s just such an honor.”
All that improvement should help Siegel realize her next goal: taking the kind of success she had in Pennsylvania in 2023 and taking it all across the country.
“I’ve played in 10 USGA tournaments so far but have never made it to match play, so that’s a goal,” said Siegel. “I just want to constantly improve. There are so many things I can do better. It’s nice when your game peaks at the right time but my goal for next year is to be consistent and compete at a national level. I love, love, love this game.”
The 2023 Super-Senior Player of the Year honoree is Alexandra Frazier, who partnered with Siegel in the PA Women’s Four-Ball. That runner-up finish—in addition to a quarterfinal spot in PA Senior Match-Play and a victory in the Super-Senior Division of the PA Women’s Amateur—gave Frazier 440 points, just over a hundred more than Barbara Pagana from Huntsville Golf Club, who had won the award the past two seasons. Frazier and Pagana faced each other in a playoff to determine the Super-Senior champion at the PA Women’s Amateur, with Frazier sinking a birdie to win the tournament.
“It was fun and I do enjoy the pressure situations,” said Frazier. “I’ve been playing competitively for 30 years now. Usually I start out a little nervous but I do settle in and I can get really focused. Even if it’s stressful, it’s also rewarding.”
Frazier had a busy year of tournaments, competing in events in three different counties. She participated in the Senior Canadian Women’s Amateur, the Senior British Women’s Amateur, and the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur.
“Canada, Great Britain, and the US all in one year was really fun,” said Frazier. “I’ve had successes on and off this year. Sometimes you feel more confident than other times. This has been a good putting year for me. Even if I left it six feet away from the hole, I could pretty much sink those. I felt very, very confident in my putting. Overall, this was a great year.”