Beth Allen of the United States stepped up to receive recognition for her phenomenal 2016 season at the Ladies European Tour awards dinner in Dubai where she was presented with a salver, an Omega watch and a cheque for 20,000 euros.

Although she had wrapped up the Order of Merit title ahead of the season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, winning the Players’ Player of the Year award was a complete surprise and she commented: “I love this tour and I’m so grateful to be part of it. Winning this means so much to me, especially because it’s voted for by the members.”

The 35-year-old from San Diego, who lists laughing, karaoke and happy hours among her favourite hobbies, became the first American player to win the LET Order of Merit in the 38-year history of the organisation with earnings of 313,079 euros from 16 tournaments, to finish 106,414 euros ahead of second placed Aditi Ashok from India, the LET’s leading rookie professional.

Beth achieved two victories and six further top 10 finishes in 2016. Her season started in style with a fourth place finish at the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open and she then finished third at the Buick Championship in China. A tie for sixth at the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters preceded a second place finish in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de España. She fought back from the heartbreak of defeat on the final hole to win the Lacoste Ladies Open de France and the inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi back-to-back, before securing another tie for sixth at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.

She explained: “In 2008, I joined the LET as a struggling tour pro with the desire to travel and I thought, ‘What a great idea! I can play golf and I write off all of my travel expenses whilst seeing the world.’ What I didn’t expect was for the tour to inspire me to become a better player. Now, many countries, a few wins and lots of laughs later, I’m standing up here as the first American ever to win the Order of Merit and I’m so proud of that achievement. I want to thank the LET staff and all of my friends for making this crazy American feel at home wherever I am in the world and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this tour. I’m so grateful to everybody.”

Beth’s journey on the LET began in 2008 but she steadily improved year by year. In fact, there was a marked improvement in 2011, the year that she donated a kidney to her brother, Dan, in March. She returned to compete on tour just two months later and that year jumped from 52nd to 19th on the Order of Merit.

The improvement continued and in 2015, Beth earned her breakthrough win at the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters, at the LET’s base, Buckinghamshire Golf Club in England, which was the first time that she worked with four-time Order of Merit winner Sophie Gustafson as her caddie.

In July 2016, having moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, Beth settled down and married, just prior to the best stretch of results of her career.

“I want to thank my caddie, Sophie, who is not here (in Dubai), for helping me to achieve something that I never thought I would. She’s helped me a lot – and just being happy in general off the golf course – is a huge help. I think 2016 has been better than I could ever ask for.”

“When I came over to Q-School in 2007, I was just feeling not very happy with my golf and I wanted a change. As soon as I came, my first event in 2008 was in Germany; I just felt really at home. I felt like I could be myself. I feel like this tour is almost like a family, and I feel like a big part of that family. I think that means something.”

Beth’s season, and story, means that she will now join the LET’s list of all-time greats.

Winners of the Order of Merit

1979 Catherine Panton-Lewis

1980 Muriel Thomson

1981 Jenny Lee Smith

1982 Jenny Lee Smith

1983 Muriel Thomson

1984 Dale Reid

1985 Laura Davies

1986 Laura Davies

1987 Dale Reid

1988 Marie-Laure Taya

1989 Marie-Laure de Lorenzi

1990 Trish Johnson

1991 Corinne Dibnah £89,058.00

1992 Laura Davies £66,333.00

1993 Karen Lunn £81,266.00

1994 Liselotte Neumann £102,750.00

1995 Annika Sorenstam £130,324.00

1996 Laura Davies £110,880.00

1997 Alison Nicholas £94,589.00

1998 Helen Alfredsson £125,975.00

1999 Laura Davies £204,522.00

2000 Sophie Gustafson £208,288.00

2001 Raquel Carriedo £160,441.00

2002 Annika Sorenstam €455,567.99

2003 Annika Sorenstam €286,991.24

2004 Annika Sorenstam €368,264.22

2005 Iben Tinning €204,672.62

2006 Laura Davies €471,727.42

2007 Sophie Gustafson €222,081.47

2008 Gwladys Nocera €391,839.58

2009 Sophie Gustafson €281,315.00

2010 Lee-Anne Pace €339,517.77

2011 Ai Miyazato €363,079.68

2012 Carlota Ciganda €251,289.95

2013 Suzann Pettersen €518,448.81

2014 Charley Hull €247,616.69

2015 Shanshan Feng €399,213.41

2016 Beth Allen €313,079.27

 

Players’ Player of the Year

1995 Annika Sorenstam

1996 Laura Davies

1997 Alison Nicholas

1998 Sophie Gustafson

1999 Laura Davies

2000 Sophie Gustafson

2001 Raquel Carriedo

2002 Annika Sorenstam

2003 Sophie Gustafson

2004 Stephanie Arricau

2005 Iben Tinning

2006 Gwladys Nocera

2007 Bettina Hauert

2008 Gwladys Nocera

2009 Catriona Matthew

2010 Lee-Anne Pace

2011 Caroline Hedwall

2012 Carlota Ciganda

2013 Lee-Anne Pace

2014 Charley Hull

2015 Nicole Broch Larsen

2016 Beth Allen