Costanza, Li, Blake Collect MGA Player of the Year Honors
ELMSFORD, N.Y. (November 13, 2023) – The Metropolitan Golf Association is pleased to announce its player of the year award recipients for the 2023 season, with Mark Costanza of Baltusrol earning the MGA Jerry Courville Sr. Player of the Year Award, Katie Li of Fiddler’s Elbow winning the first-ever MGA Women’s Player of the Year Award, and Barnes Blake of Westfield, N.J., collecting the MGA Junior Player of the Year Award Presented by Callaway.
Each of the MGA’s player of the year awards honors players who have compiled the best records in select events during the year. Each award has a points system in which players earn points for their finishes in designated local, national, and international championships, while the final selections for the awards are determined by the MGA Board of Directors. The award winners will be honored at the MGA’s 126th Annual Meeting and Dinner, December 6 at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y.
Mark Costanza, Baltusrol Golf Club
Costanza’s run to earning the award for the third time in four years was highlighted by a spectacular nine-week span which began August 3 with medalist honors in the 121st Met Amateur Championship at Friar’s Head and culminated October 4 with a playoff victory in the 17th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Country Club of Fairfield.
Costanza was just inside the top-50 on the season-long points listing entering the Met Amateur, which sparked momentum for the stretch run. Next up the 34-year-old logged a runner-up finish and collected low amateur honors in the 108th Met Open Championship Presented by Callaway at Arcola Country Club, placing the prospect of again winning the award on his radar.
He followed with a match play appearance in the 42nd U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Sleepy Hollow Country Club and a tie for second in the rain-altered Farrell at The Stanwich Club.
Having barely surpassed Cavaliere in the standings after those finishes, Costanza knew it was going to take a good performance in his season-closing event to earn the honor. He made the most of his last opportunity, holding off 2022 MGA Player of the Year Brad Tilley of Sleepy Hollow in a playoff as he made a pair of birdies to win his fourth career MGA title.
The win secured Costanza the MGA Jerry Courville Sr. Player of the Year Award once again, having closed the year with 1007 points to Cavaliere’s 860. Darin Goldstein of Deepdale (683), Matt Lowe of Bethpage (670), and Tilley (667) rounded out the top five in the year-end standings.
Costanza joins elite company, now standing as one of just four players to have won the award three times.
“Being in the same conversation with guys like George Zahringer, Jerry Courville, Jr., and Jeff Thomas – who are legends in amateur golf in this area – is definitely something I’m damn proud of,” says Costanza. “It wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t even thinking or planning on playing competitive golf anymore. The fact that only a few years later, having won three out of the last four years, and being in that conversation with those guys, I’m honestly speechless to tell you what that means to me.”
Katie Li, Fiddler's Elbow Country Club
Having established herself among the nation’s top juniors in recent years, Li continued her outstanding play in 2023 en route to becoming the inaugural MGA Women’s Player of the Year.
Related: Women's POY Final Standings
After closing out 2022 with a runner-up finish in a playoff at the Dixie Amateur at Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota, Fla., Li kept her game steady through the winter and finished second in the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Annika Invitational and tied sixth in the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, S.C.
The top finishes kept Li’s confidence high, knowing that once spring arrived, she could amp up her practice regimen and get ready for a busy final summer before heading to her first year of college at Duke University.
June presented Li with a pair of special opportunities, as she played in the Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club as one of 24 AJGA juniors competing alongside LPGA players and represented the United States in Japan for the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup.
The quality play continued with Li qualifying for match play in the North & South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst and winning a match in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. Her final point-receiving event was the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, where she also advanced to match play.
Li’s performances on the national stage earned her 1135 points, a convincing 510 points ahead of Catherine McEvoy of Innis Arden, who advanced to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and finished second and as low amateur at the Women’s Met Open Championship. Aliea Clark of Five Iron Golf (450), Megha Ganne of Liberty National (395), and Ina Kim-Schaad of Deepdale (285) rounded out the top-five.
“All inaugural things are great because it’s a step in the right direction, especially for women’s golf,” says Li. “I was born and raised in the Met Area and it has given me so many great opportunities, so having my name under this award is such an honor.”
Barnes Blake, Westfield, N.J.
Blake etched his name in MGA history in multiple ways in 2023, becoming the second player to win both the Met Junior Championship Sponsored by MetLife and the Carter Cup in the same year as he went on to win the MGA Junior Player of the Year Award Presented by Callaway.
Blake came out firing at Echo Lake Country Club in the Met Junior, shooting a course record 8-under 62 en route to sharing medalist honors. He continued to roll in match play, eventually defeating Liam Pasternak of Morristown, N.J., by a 3-and-2 margin in the final.
After competing in the U.S. Junior Amateur, Blake had another record performance, firing a course-record tying 8-under 64 on Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course en route to setting a new Carter Cup scoring record (11-under) in his victory.
Blake – a member at both Echo Lake and Baltusrol – joined Echo Lake COO and Director of Golf Pat Fillian as the only players to win both the Met Junior and the Carter Cup in the same year.
“Everyone dreams of winning at their home course in front of their home crowd,” says Blake, who’s in his freshman season at Georgetown University. “So, it was just awesome to be out there with all my friends and family out watching and supporting.”
During the season, Blake also made the cut in the New Jersey Amateur, qualified for the Met Amateur, and advanced to the semifinals of the New Jersey Junior.
Blake finished the season with 655 points. Hebron Amateur winner Thomas Finn of Locust Valley, N.Y., finished second with 470 points, while Reed Greyserman of Short Hills, N.J., (394), Pasternak (315), and Dean Muratore of Dix Hills, N.Y. (261) completed the top five.