DURHAM, N.C. – Senior Brinson Paolini was honored as the recipient of the 2013 Byron Nelson Award presented by Cleveland Golf/Srixon, as announced Thursday by the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA). Paolini is the first Blue Devil to receive the award after being selected from a list of five finalists that included Evan Beck (Wake Forest), Pedro Figueiredo (UCLA), Charlie Hughes (Washington) and Andrew Yun (Stanford).
“I am honored and humbled to receive the Byron Nelson Award,” said Paolini. “Mr. Nelson was an incredible golfer as well as a committed, generous and compassionate man. He has been a role model for me and many others in golf and in life. All of the five finalists are wonderful golf¬ers and even better people and any one of us could have been selected. Receiving the award, though, allows me to honor the people who made it possible -- my teammates, my school, my coaches, my family and of course Mr. Nelson and his family. I am so grateful for the examples they’ve set. Going forward I will do my best to uphold the values, integrity, and citizenship that Mr. Nelson established as a standard for all of us.”
The Byron Nelson Award is given annually to a graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence both on the golf course as well as in the classroom. The selection committee considers equally a nominee’s entire collegiate academic and golf career as well as his character and integrity while in college. Particular consideration will be given to a nominee’s good citizenship, as portrayed by Mr. Byron Nelson over the course of his life and golf career.
Paolini, tabbed No. 21 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, is in the midst of an outstanding senior campaign, recording a 71.8 stroke average and notching four top-five’s, and 10 top-20 finishes. The Virginia Beach, Va., native leads the Blue Devils in stroke average, top-five finishes, top-10 finishes (6), top-20 finishes, even or under par rounds (17), rounds in the 60’s (6) and rounds at 75 or under (26).
During his four years at Duke, Paolini has led the team to eight team victories, while also etching his name into program record books in career scoring average (2nd, 72.25), rounds in the 60’s (2nd, 26), under-par rounds (3rd, 46), even-par or better rounds (2nd, 67), top-five finishes (2nd, 12), top-10 finishes (T-3rd, 18) and top-20 finishes (T-3rd , 27). The 2011 All-America selection is also among the all-time leaders in tournaments played (T-8th, 44) and rounds played (T-9th, 130).
Paolini helped guide Duke to its first ACC Championships since 2005 last weekend at Old North State Club in New London, N.C. He fired a five-under 211 to finished tied for seventh and become just the third Blue Devil to record three top 10 finishes in ACC Championship play.
At his home in Virginia Beach, Va., Paolini helped promote the game of golf by hosting golf clinics at his home club, Princess Ann Country Club and the First Tee of Virginia Beach.
In addition to his outstanding work on the golf course, the All-ACC Academic team selection contributes greatly to his local community in Durham by volunteering at the Durham City Soup Kitchen and by participating in the Read with the Blue Devils program. Paolini also took part in Duke’s Stop Hunger Now MLK Million Meals Event in January, which packaged thousands of meals and distributed them worldwide to those in need. Paolini also walked in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night Walk,” which was a fundraised to celebrate and commemorate the lives of those impacted by blood cancer.
Duke returns to action May 16-18 with NCAA Regional Championship play. Regional locations and seedings will be announced May 6.