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Cilley Ranks 2021 Among His Best Seasons As He Claims Thomas J. Leonard Jr. Player of the Year Award

November 16th, 2021

Concord, NH – As the 2021 golf season comes to a close, the New Hampshire Golf Association (NHGA) is proud to announce this season’s Player of the Year award recipients.  Earning this year’s honors are Jim Cilley (Laconia CC) claiming the Thomas J. Leonard Jr. Player of the Year award, Tara Watt (Derryfield CC) earning the NHWGA Player of the Year award, Bryce Zimmerman (Nashua CC) with the Kirk Hanefeld Junior Player of the Year award for the second-straight season and Craig Steckowych (Portsmouth CC) winning the Senior Player of the Year award for two consecutive years.
The Thomas J. Leonard Jr. Player of the Year award is given to the player who earned the most points through NHGA tournaments and championships along with regional and USGA championships throughout the given season.  This year, Jim Cilley propelled himself up the standings with a Semifinal finish at the 118th New Hampshire Amateur Championship, losing to this year’s champion James Pleat (Nashua CC), a win at the New Hampshire Stroke Play Championship and a second-place finish at the New Hampshire Mid-Amateur Championship.  Along with those tournaments, he claimed top 5 finishes in five other NHGA events throughout the season.
Cilley has been a recognized name around New Hampshire golf for a number of years.  One of his most proud moments was winning the New Hampshire Amateur Championship back in 2011 when it was held at Nashua Country Club.  When reflecting back on previous season and thinking about how 2021 stacks up he said, “I'd have to say it ranks up there with 2011 and with 2016.  I think this year I had a lot of outside distractions, personal challenges, work issues, and responsibilities that I didn't have in 2011 or 2016.”
“At the very least it has been the most rewarding and possibly the best tournament resume I've ever had”, continued Cilley.
It was certainly a memorable year for Cilley as he logged numerous rounds of golf in NHGA tournaments and in more casual tournaments played with friends.  When asked what his most memorable moment of the season was, he stated, “It would be hard for me to say anything other than winning the Stroke Play.  It's been an event I've long wanted to win.  I won on a course where you have to be patient and mentally grind out each shot in Keene.”
He had his sights set on winning the Stroke Play for a while and through two consistent rounds to start and the only under-par score in the final round, he finally captured that victory.  From there, he went on to finish runner-up to Ryan Kohler (Hooper GC) at the New Hampshire Mid-Amateur Championship.  Kohler also had a strong season in NHGA events as well as USGA qualifying rounds for the US Open and US Amateur, he ended up on the alternate list for both championships.
Now, Cilley is happy to have his name in New Hampshire history alongside his friends who he has watched achieve the same success in years prior.  He said, “I'm extremely honored, proud, and humbled to know that I had a year that qualified me for this honor.  It's been a secret goal of mine since I watched my good friends Craig Cyr and Mark Stevens win the State Amateur and be viewed as the best players in the state.”
“I'm glad that it's a moment I'll get to share with my dad, my daughter Hannah and son Matt, as well as my step kids, Brian, Tylor, and Wyatt”, continued Cilley.  “And I told my wonderful and biggest supporter, my fiancé Amanda, that I was going to win something big and that it was a dream of mine to show her that I'm not just a ‘has been’ who used to be good but that I could still play.”
The NHGA is happy to present the Thomas J. Leonard Jr. Player of the Year award to Jim Cilley.