Haskins Award Watch List: April 14, 2017

USGA

Haskins Award Watch List: April 14, 2017

College

Haskins Award Watch List: April 14, 2017

Conference championships are about to begin, and although the are two names who have distanced themselves from the pack in the race for the 2017 Haskins Award presented by Stifel, there are a few more players who still have an outside shot.

Remember, this stretch of golf – conference, regional and NCAA championships – carries a lot of weight when it comes to a player’s Haskins resume.

LSU sophomore Sam Burns holds the edge over Oregon senior Wyndham Clark at this point. But if a player like Stanford senior Maverick McNealy, Wake Forest junior Will Zalatoris or USC junior Sean Crocker nabs a couple of victories from their conference championship onward, they could sneak in there and capture the Haskins.

Also, don’t rule out Ole Miss sophomore Braden Thornberry. He has four victories and if he proves himself against the best of the best this next month and adds another victory or two, he could earn a lot of votes, as well.

Remember: coaches, players and media members can vote for the award. Voting begins on May 18, right after the conclusion of the NCAA regionals.

The Haskins Award is given annually to the best college player, as voted by players, coaches and media. Haskins Award winners over the years include such notable future professionals as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan.

Texas’ Beau Hossler won the 2016 Haskins Award, beating out Arizona State’s Jon Rahm and Stanford’s Maverick McNealy, the 2015 Haskins winner.

Here are my current top candidates for the 2017 Haskins Award:

• • •

1. Sam Burns

  • Year: Sophomore
  • School: LSU
  • Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 1
  • Results: Won, Louisiana Classics; Won, Western Refining College All-America Classic; T-1, David Toms Intercollegiate; second, The Prestige at PGA West; second, Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic; T-4, Valspar Collegiate; T-6, Carpet Capital Collegiate; T-6, Aggie Invitational; eighth, Maui Jim Intercollegiate; T-8, Tiger Classic; T-9, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate; T-9, General Hackler Championship
  • Scoring average: 69.76
  • The buzz: Burns enters the SEC Championship having still not finished worse than T-9 in 12 starts. However, his T-8 performance at the 36-hole Tiger Classic dropped him from first to third in the country in scoring average. Still, he has three wins, one more than Clark, and has played the 64th toughest schedule in the country. If Burns can get another win and keep his top-10 streak intact, he’ll make it hard for voters to not go with him for this year’s Haskins Award.

• • •

2. Wyndham Clark

  • Year: Senior
  • School: Oregon
  • Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 2
  • Results: Won, Arizona Intercollegiate; T-1, Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate; second, Oregon Duck Invitational; second, Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational; T-2, Bandon Dunes Championship; T-3, Paintbrush Intercollegiate; T-5, Western Intercollegiate; T-6, East Lake Cup (stroke play); T-10, Amer Ari Invitational; T-13, The Goodwin; 2-0 in East Lake Cup match play
  • Scoring average: 69.54
  • The buzz: Clark’s T-13 finish at The Goodwin is a good finish, but it also slightly hurt his Haskins chances. Top 10s go a long way, although Clark still has nine of them, including two wins and four other top-3 finishes. He’s first in the country in scoring average, ahead of Burns, and is 25-13-3 against Golfweek’s top 25. One thing that may hurt him is his schedule rank, which is No. 138 in the country.

• • •

3. Will Zalatoris

  • Year: Junior
  • School: Wake Forest
  • Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 5
  • Results: Won, General Hackler Championship; T-2, Valspar Collegiate; T-2, 3M Augusta Invitational; T-2, Rod Myers Invitational; seventh, Nike Golf Collegiate; T-7, Querencia Cabo Collegiate; T-8, Irish Creek Intercollegiate; T-12, SunTrust Gator Invitational; T-24, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate
  • Scoring average: 69.92
  • The buzz: According to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, Zalatoris was the top-ranked player in the month of March. He has now finished T-2 or better four times in 11 starts entering the ACC Championship. He is 23-13-2 against Golfweek’s top 25 while playing the nation’s 38th toughest schedule.

• • •

4. Sean Crocker

  • Year: Junior
  • School: USC
  • Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 4
  • Results: T-2, Western Intercollegiate; fourth, Nike Golf Collegiate; T-5, The Goodwin; seventh, Southwestern Invitational; T-7, Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational; T-10, Gifford Collegiate; T-12, Southern Highlands Collegiate; T-13, Amer Ari Invitational; T-16, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate
  • Scoring average: 70.15
  • The buzz: No wins but ultra-consistent for the Trojans, Crocker hasn’t finished worse than T-16 in any of his nine starts. He is also playing his best golf of the season right now with finishes of T-2 and T-5 in his last two starts. USC has one of the deepest teams in the country, but there’s no doubt the second-ranked Trojans wouldn’t be ranked nearly as high without Crocker in the lineup. Crocker is 37-23-1 against Golfweek’s top 25 while playing the nation’s 27th toughest schedule.

• • •

Stanford’s Maverick McNealy

5. Maverick McNealy

  • Year: Senior
  • School: Stanford
  • Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 3
  • Results: Won, Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational; third, Gifford Collegiate (stroke play); fourth, Western Intercollegiate; fourth, Amer Ari Invitational; seventh, The Goodwin; 16th, Southern Highlands Collegiate; T-18, The Prestige at PGA West; T-29, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate
  • Scoring average: 69.87
  • The buzz: McNealy is behind Crocker because he has finished behind the USC junior in each of the last two events. McNealy has one of the better wins in the country this year, at the Nike, but finishing outside the top 15 three times this season hurts him. Still, his statistics are good. He’s sixth in the country in scoring average and ranked third by Golfweek, thanks to playing the 21st toughest schedule and going 31-19 against Golfweek’s top 25.

• • •

Next 5

  • Matthias Schwab, Sr., Vanderbilt
  • Braden Thornberry, Soph., Ole Miss
  • Collin Morikawa, Soph., Cal
  • Chandler Phillips, Soph., Texas A&M
  • Norman Xiong, Fr., Oregon

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