College / Women

ANNIKA Award Watch List: April 28, 2016

UCLA's Bronte Law
UCLA's Bronte Law (Tracy Wilcox)

The postseason is officially on its way, as the conference championship season finished on Sunday. That puts us really down to the wire in the ANNIKA Award Watch List, as only one more event (NCAA Regionals) stands before the NCAA Championship.

The ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M honors the player of the year in college women’s golf, as selected by a group of college golfers, coaches and members of the golf media.

Kevin Casey breaks down his top contenders in the ninth spring installment as the 2015-16 season reaches its stretch run:

• • •
1. Bronte Law (Last week: 1)

Year: Junior

School: UCLA

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 1

Results: WIN, PING/ASU Invitational; WIN, Stanford Intercollegiate hosted by Condoleezza Rice; 2, Pac-12 Championship; 2, Bruin Wave Invitational; T-4, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; T-4, Nanea Pac-12 Preview; T-21, Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate; T-25, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; 3-1 in match play at SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms

The buzz: Law had already completed her conference championship by the time last week’s list came out. She was the clear No. 1 then, and nothing has changed since. At this point, the chances are really good we have a second ANNIKA winner in three years from UCLA.

2. Monica Vaughn (Last week: 3)

Year: Junior

School: Arizona State

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 3

Results: WIN, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; T-2, Golfweek Conference Challenge; 3, Arizona Wildcat Invitational; T-5, Pac-12 Championship; T-8, Pac-12 Preview; T-9, Bruin Wave Invitational; T-9, Windy City Classic; T-17 PING/ASU Invitational; T-40, Stanford Intercollegiate; 2-1-1 in match play at SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms

The buzz: Vaughn wasn’t even on this list until last month, but her star has been fiercely on the rise. Whatever her progress, though, she’s a distant No. 2 in this race at the moment. As I noted last week, she’ll need an extraordinary showing at her NCAA Regional and a poor performance from Law to give herself a chance at becoming the ANNIKA favorite.

3. Leona Maguire (Last week: 5)

Year: Sophomore

School: Duke

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 4

Results: WIN, Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational; T-4, The Landfall Tradition; T-8, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; T-9, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; T-10, ACC Championship; T-14, LSU Tiger Golf Classic; T-17, Darius Rucker Intercollegiate

The buzz: Maguire moves up a couple of spots after the pair ahead of her (more on that duo in the “Down” section) couldn’t capitalize on their late conference championships. The reigning ANNIKA winner still has subdued odds of repeating, though, even in the No. 3 spot. Like Vaughn, she’ll need a high-level Regional showing plus a Law falter to really put herself back in the running late.

4. Harang Lee (Last week: N/A)

Year: Junior

School: Georgia

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 2

Results: 2, Cardinal Kickoff; 2, Liz Murphey Collegiate; T-3, Lady Puerto Rico Classic; 4, Mason Rudolph; 6, Darius Rucker Intercollegiate; T-8, Stanford Intercollegiate; 9, Lady Bulldog Invitational; T-16, SEC Championship; T-17, Mountain View Collegiate; T-19, Windy City Collegiate; T-24, Cougar Classic

The buzz: So this Georgia junior is aided a bit by the fact that one of her second-place showings is from an 18-hole stroke-play event (Liz Murphey). Still, a great jump up this season considering she was mired in the 200s in the rankings the past two years, and this season she’s No. 2 in Golfweek‘s individual collegiate women’s rankings. Seven top 10s overall this season for Lee is pretty good stuff. She may very well be on this list by award time, but she has too much ground to make up in too little time to have a chance at grabbing the ANNIKA.

5. Katelyn Dambaugh (Last week: N/A)

Year: Junior

School: South Carolina

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 7

Results: 2, SEC Championship; T-2, Bryan National Collegiate; T-2, FSU Match-Up; T-2, Landfall Tradition; 3, ANNIKA Intercollegiate; T-7, Darius Rucker Intercollegiate; 9, Wildcat Invitational; T-24, Mason Rudolph Championship; T-39, Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational

The buzz: Four runner-up finishes and five top-threes overall for Dambaugh this season. Pretty impressive stuff. Only thing left to do this year on the individual side? Grab a win.

• • •

Who trended up and who trended down this week?

UP

Only the Big Ten and Big 12 Conference championships had a chance to produce some “Up” players. While some competitors had great performances, none were remotely close to the ANNIKA list at this point in the season. Thus, no “Up” candidates for this week.

DOWN

Hannah Kim

Going to reiterate here that the severity of the drop doesn’t necessarily match the performance at this time of year. Kim’s fall from No. 2 last week to completely off the list this week is a function of the point we’re at in the season. Kim’s T-9 performance at the Big Ten Championship really isn’t anything too bad, but her being No. 2 on the ANNIKA list was partially based on her having that extra event left heading into last weekend. This late in the season, if she could have contend there, she really could have stamped her name as one of the ANNIKA favorites. But the Northwestern sophomore, now Golfweek‘s No. 13, didn’t do that at Big Tens, and with the number of events left being so minuscule, her ANNIKA chances pretty much disappeared after that T-9.

Yupaporn Kawinpakorn

This Kansas senior saw pretty much the exact same fate as Kim. While a T-5 at the Big 12 Championship is certainly not a showing to sniff at for Kawinpakorn, she really needed another win to stay relevant in the ANNIKA race. Yes, the Jayhawk, Golfweek‘s No. 12, already has five wins on the season, but that’s against a strength of schedule that ranked 385th before the conference championship. Winning Big 12s, though, not only would have been a sixth win, but a much-needed victory at against a high-caliber field as well (as the strength of schedule would suggest, some of Kawinpakorn’s 2015-16 wins haven’t been against the strongest competition). The win didn’t come and thus Kawinpakorn dropped from the list. She’ll compete as an individual at the Shoal Creek Regional, and a good performance there could get her back on the list. But her ANNIKA odds, like Kim’s, are gone.

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