Former Lyon County star golfer Cullan Brown received a prestigious nod on Thursday afternoon, when University of Kentucky Athletics tabbed him as the 2019-20 “Male Freshman Athlete of the Year” at the digitally-produced 18th Annual CATSPY Awards Show, presented by Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance.
The Eddyville native had capped an impressive 2018-19 campaign with an invitation — and later a 10-under, 53rd-place finish — to the 2019 PGA Barbasol Championships at Keene Trace Course in Nicholasville, before having to withdraw from UK in order to effectively receive treatment and chemotherapy for osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer) in his left thigh.
“I’d just like to say thank you so much,” Brown told the digital panel. “It’s such an honor. I’m not 100% sure who goes about handing out these awards, but whoever it is, I just want to make sure they get all the thanks. And know that they have all the gratitude from me they could possibly have. It’s a fantastic award.
“We had a good spring last year, and I couldn’t possibly be happier to be accepting this award for both myself and for the men’s golf program. When I say it means a lot, it truly does mean a lot.”
Brown piled it on during his rookie season. His four top-20 finishes, 10 rounds of par-or-better rounds, ninth-place finish at the 2019 SEC Championships (which propelled the ‘Cats to third overall), and 72.42 stroke average pushed him on to the 2019 All-SEC Freshman squad.
His season-low — an opening-round 64 at Mason Rudolph — tied a single-round scoring record under UK men’s golf coach Brian Craig, an era of 19 years, and counting.
“What I would say is that you’re not just the rookie of the year, you’re the superhero of the year,” Craig noted on Thursday. “We love you, and we’re with you buddy.”
Added senior golfer and St. Xavier alum Matt Liston: “You were such an asset to us last year, and I’m sure you’re doing great right now. So keep fighting for us, and we look forward to seeing you soon.”
Before the stoppage of play due to the coronavirus, Kentucky men’s golf had pledged itself to “Birdies for Brownie” — a mantra that eventually became a founding theme and slogan behind a gofundme.com donation drive.
At this time, Brown is currently receiving treatment.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats were coming off of their best performance of the 2019-20 season — fourth overall at the Tiger Invitational on March 8-10 at Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Alabama — when the NCAA suspended, then later canceled, the rest of the calendar.
Others in consideration for this award: Tyrese Maxey (men’s basketball), Lance Lang (track & field), Josh Sobota (track & field), Brandin Echols (football), Austin Schultz (baseball), Langston Jackson (track & field), Liam Draxl (tennis), Jakob Clark (swimming), Eythor Bjorgolfsson (soccer), Tai Brown (track & field) and Aaron Withrow (cross country).