2023 Senior Amateur season tees off in Tampa at Golfweek Senior Player of the Year Classic

The 2023 Golfweek senior amateur season is officially underway. 

The quest for Player of the Year honors commenced Monday at Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club in Tampa, Florida. But first, let’s take a moment to honor the four men who earned Player of the Year honors in 2022.

Senior division player of the year Rusty Strawn had a fantastic 2022. The Georgia native began his year with a win at the Florida Senior Azalea in March. Picking up another win at the Senior Trans-Miss, Strawn took down fellow Georgian Doug Hanzel in the U.S. Senior Amateur.

Not done yet, Strawn followed the USGA major victory with a win North of the border, winning the Canadian Senior Amateur a week later. Capping off his 2022 season with a winning captaincy at the Golfweek Senior Challenge Cup, Strawn ran away with Player of the Year in the senior division.

Super Senior Marc Fried, like Strawn, had a dominant 2022. Starting his season with three straight top-five finishes, Fried built momentum towards a winning effort at the U.S. Super Senior National Championship. Per AmateurGolf.com, Fried’s worst finish on the year was T-18 in 17 starts.

Pennsylvania native Don Donatoni nabbed Legend player of the year honors thanks in part to a win at the Super-Senior Amateur. Playing strongly throughout the year at Golfweek events, the 74 -year-old was able to secure the top spot at year’s end.

After a season that included a win at the Golfweek Senior National Invitational, John Blank earned the Super Legend player of the year honor.

With all four age division winners and 2022 Yancey Ford Award winner Joe Pavoni, all honored on Monday, the 2023 race for Player of the Year is officially underway.

Mike Finster leads the senior division through round 1. The Florida native carded the lone under-par score of the day with a 1 under 71. Georgia’s Danny Nelson lurks two shots back at 1 over while Rusty Strawn is in a two-way tie for third after posting an opening 74.

In the Super Senior division, it’s Marcus Beck holding a two-shot lead at 3 over. An even par front nine was marred by a lone double bogey on the par-5 15th. Mike Poe and Steve Humphrey matched each other with 77s to finish the day two back of Beck.

Arkansas’s Bev Hargraves impresses with an opening 4 over 76. With 36 holes left to play, Hargreaves will have to be weary as Don Donatoni trails by just one shot.

In the 75+ age bracket, Gene Bingman commands an early lead. The super legend carded an 8 over 80 to take a one shot lead over Gil Stenholm.

Round two of the Golfweek Senior Player of the Year Classic continues on Tuesday. For more information on how to play Golfweek events, click here.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek