Stephanie Meadow was honoured recently at The Irish Times / Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year Awards for a fine run of form which culminated in a third-place finish at the Pelican Women’s Championship in Belleair, Florida.
That result saw Meadow climb to 35th on the LPGA money list and earned her the Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Month award for November. It also meant a far more relaxing end to 2020 than that experienced by Meadow in late 2019. Back then Meadow had to sink a 25-foot putt on the final hole of a tournament in Texas to finish in the top 100 and hold onto her tour card. But since the Tour resumed last July, Meadow has found a level of consistency that she struggled to reach the previous year.
The third-place finish at the Pelican Women’s Championship – which was won by South Korea’s Sei Youn Kim, the world number two – matched her best ever finish in a professional event – third at the 2014 US Open. It also saw her finish above players of the calibre of Lydia Ko, Jessica Korda and Brooke Henderson. In addition the cheque for over $100K lifted her from 59th on the money list to 35th and secured a place in the end-of-season Tour Championship. The 28-year-old explained the reasons for her new found consistency:
“I putted great – I made everything I looked at. I went back to an old putter three, four weeks ago just sitting in the garage. I’ve had more confidence. I stroke much better and I love the feel of it. That really turned things around. It’s just really nice to have a good finish this year. I’ve had so many consistent finishes, around the 30th-40th mark and making a lot of cuts.”
Meadow will hope the good form continues into the new year as she is due to represent Ireland with Leona Maguire in Tokyo – just as they did in Rio – while a spot on the European team that will compete at the Solheim Cup in Ohio soon afterwards is also on her radar.
This is the 17th year of the awards and Meadow was among 12 other monthly award winners nominated for the 2020 title. Other winners included jockey Rachael Blackmore, last year’s Sportswoman of the Year, rower Sanita Puspure and County Down runner Ciara Mageean. However, it was the August winner, Katie Taylor, the undisputed world lightweight champion who was once again crowned The Irish Times / Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year for 2020. It’s the Bray boxer’s fifth time to win the award and comes after she enjoyed a highly successful 2020, defending her titles against Belgian rival Delfine Persoon and Miriam Gutierrez from Spain.
Accepting the award from her US base in Connecticut, she said it was a privilege and a great honour to be recognised in this way. She said that turning professional had been beyond her wildest dreams: “These have definitely been the most enjoyable few years of my whole career and this is coming after my lowest point as well, the Rio Olympics, so it really has been an amazing few years.”