Manuel Named 2021 Player of the Year
The MSGA season has come to an end, wrapping up last weekend as Maine makes its gradual move toward winter. This week we will be highlighting the recipients of the 2021 Player of the Year awards.
The Maine State Golf Association is pleased to announce Caleb Manuel as the recipient of the 2021 Dr. Leonardo Buck Player of the Year award, an annual accolade bestowed to the player who accrues the most points in a year-long competition among all of its tournaments. The Player of the Year race began on August 1, 2020 and ran through the end of July 2021. Points are available at all MSGA Play Days and championship tournaments, along with certain regional tournaments, with points awarded based on a combination of the field size and the importance of the event.
“I am honored to be named Dr. Leonardo Buck Player of the Year for the second year in a row,” says Manuel, who plays out of Brunswick Golf Club. “It definitely means a lot to me.”
Manuel was the Maine Junior champion and also won the Player of the Year in 2020, but this year felt a little more momentous considering the 19-year old from Topsham was able to capture the Maine Amateur Championship at Kebo Valley this summer. “It was a very special week for me and my inner circle,” he recalls. “I have wanted to win that tournament ever since I started competing in MSGA junior events and to do it this year meant a lot.”
He had his family friend Wayne Door on the bag for the third straight year, and after he hit his approach into Kebo’s last green in front of an appreciative crowd, he knew he had the tournament under wraps. “I couldn’t stop smiling and I had goosebumps the whole way up 18. And to give him a big hug after the final putt was a very special moment to me.”
Just weeks later he went on to finish second in the New England Amateur Championship, finishing just one shot short of the eventual winner at one of the region’s top events. He was part of the winning team at the 2020 Club Team Championship, a semifinalist at the 2020 Match Play Invitational, and winner of three Play Days over the season en route to amassing more points than all of his peers.
Manuel currently attends the University of Connecticut as a sophomore on a golf scholarship. While his freshman season last year was cut short due to COVID, this fall he came out firing and has been the Huskies’ number one player all season. He earned his first individual D1 title this fall, shooting rounds of 70-68-67—205 (-11) at the UConn Invitational at the difficult GreatHorse in Massachusetts.
“I had been close to winning in the spring and been in contention a lot,” he says. “In college it's hard because there are so many talented players and it seems like every player has their week. And that week happened to be mine. It definitely opened my eyes and gave me the confidence that I can win at this level and look forward to winning again in the near future.”
He is mature beyond his years and knows that he can’t do it all on his own, and is appreciative of everyone who has helped him achieve early success in this game.
“I’d definitely like to thank my golf coach over at the Woodlands, Paul Piveronas, for all he does for me. We’ll text back in fourth everyday especially when I’m at school, looking at my swing and golf game in general. Sometimes it’s not even about golf. We have built a great relationship over the years.”
“Also thanks to my coach here at UConn, Dave Pezzino,” he adds. “He has definitely made me a better golfer and a better man. Finally, a big thanks to the Brunswick Golf Club community and all of their support.”
Manuel plans to major in Sports Management at UConn, but also has hopes to play golf professionally. He will look to defend his Maine Amateur title next summer at Webhannet GC.