The Staysure Tour’s Annual Awards evening took place in the stunning Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey on Thursday night to celebrate the achievements of the 2017 season.
American Clark Dennis was the biggest winner on the night, picking up the John Jacobs Trophy for winning the Order of Merit and the Rookie of the Year award. David MacLaren, Head of the Staysure Tour, presented the Texan with the Rookie of the Year award before European Tour CEO Keith Pelley presented the three-time Staysure Tour winner with the John Jacobs Trophy.
Dennis also received the Rolex Player of the Year Award, voted for by his fellow professionals.
Ireland’s Mark McNulty was presented with the Lawrence Batley award as the leading over 60s player on the 2017 Order of Merit.
In addition to the awards, Ryan Howsam, Chairman of Staysure, addressed the attendees and Bernard Gallacher paid tribute to the late, great Tommy Horton.
Horton, a two-time Ryder Cup player, was one of the most influential figures in the development of both the European Tour and the Staysure Tour. He won the John Jacobs Trophy a record five times and sadly passed away in December 2017, aged 76.
After receiving the duo of the awards, Clark Dennis said: “It’s really neat to have both of those titles. It was a long year; I had some ups, I had some downs but overall it was fantastic. I had a great time.
“It ranks number one for my accomplishments. I’ve played a lot of golf around the world but to win the Order of Merit on such a prestigious tour is number one for me.
“I think what really changed everything was the disaster I had here at Woburn because I played so well and I gave it away and didn’t win. I was able to rebound the next week in Italy and if I hadn’t had Woburn, I may not have been able to do that in Italy.”
In a year which included two Staysure Tour victories, there were many highlights for Dennis. However, what he treasures most is the new friendships which have blossomed on a tour which he describes as being like ‘a family’.
“There have been so many great moments,” he said. “It’s like a fraternity out here with the guys. I love being around all the new guys and making new friends by playing with guys I’ve never played with.
“I’ve seen different things that I’ve never seen before; new countries, different cultures that I hadn’t been exposed to.
“I think the Staysure Tour, and the Champions Tour, is a little bit different to what we’ve done our whole careers. When you’re on the European Tour or the PGA Tour it’s cutthroat.
“You’re by yourself and it’s all for you. When you come out here, there are no cuts, 54-hole tournaments, smaller fields, it’s a lot more of a family atmosphere.”