ANNIKA Award Watch List: May 18, 2017

Leona Maguire

ANNIKA Award Watch List: May 18, 2017

Women

ANNIKA Award Watch List: May 18, 2017

The NCAA Championship begins Friday, and that means we are down to one event left in the season. Oh, and if you are eligible to vote for the next ANNKA winner, you can cast your ballot NOW!

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

Voting is now OPEN for the award: You can go ahead and cast your ballot right here!

This will be the fourth edition of the honor, with UCLA’s Alison Lee winning in 2014, Duke’s Leona Maguire taking the honor in 2015 and UCLA’s Bronte Law earning it in 2016.

The following players made the pre-NCAA Championship edition of the ANNIKA Award Watch List.

Note: With voting now open, some ballots are already being cast. So NCAA Championship performance won’t be a factor in every vote.

With further ado, the pre-NCAA Championship spring edition of the ANNIKA rankings:

• • •

1. Leona Maguire (Last time: 1)

Year: Junior

School: Duke

2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 1

Results: WIN, ACC Championship; WIN, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; WIN, LSU Tiger Golf Classic; 2, SunTrust Gator Invitational; 3, Windy City Collegiate Championship; T-3, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; T-3, East Lake Cup (1-0-1 in match play as well); T-6, NCAA Albuquerque Regional; T-6, Darius Rucker Intercollegiate; 1-1 in match play in Duke-Northwestern showdown; 0-0-1 in Northwestern quad

The buzz: It may depend a bit on when the votes are cast, but Maguire is the clear favorite as voting opens. Now, clear doesn’t mean the gap between Maguire and the rest is overwhelming, but there is indeed a gap to be noticed. The NCAA Championship could change things, and maybe Andrea Lee’s current resume impresses some voters more than Maguire’s does. It doesn’t for me, though: Maguire has just as many wins as Lee and no finishes outside the top 10 while Lee has two. Schedule doesn’t save Lee here either, as Maguire has actually played the more difficult slate (10th-toughest schedule in the nation vs. Lee’s 27th-toughest). Again, when voting happens has an effect here, but the signs point to Maguire winning the ANNIKA for the second time in three years.

2. Andrea Lee (Last time: 2)

Year: Freshman

School: Stanford

2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 2

Results: WIN, Windy City Collegiate Championship; WIN, Peg Barnard Invitational; WIN, East Lake Cup (2-0 in match play as well); 2, Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Championship; T-2, Stanford Intercollegiate hosted by Condoleezza Rice; T-3, Pac-12 Championship; 3, Silverado Showdown; T-8, NCAA Albuquerque Regional; T-11, Bruin Wave Invitational; T-23, Nanea Pac-12 Preview

The buzz: An ANNIKA win is not too likely at this point, but Lee should by no means presume her chances are gone. Regardless of what happens, nobody could criticize this freshman season. We all knew how talented Lee was coming in, but this was still something else. Three wins already by early spring and she contended a few other times, too. The only thing she didn’t do was meet Maguire’s ridiculously high standard for always being near the top. Lee does indeed have a lot of room to grow, which is scary. She should be right back in the thick of this race next year.

3. Jennifer Kupcho (Last time: 5)

Year: Sophomore

School: Wake Forest

2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 4

Results: WIN, NCAA Athens Regional; WIN, The Landfall Tradition; WIN, Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational; 2, ACC Championship; T-2, Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational; T-3, Bryan National Collegiate T-4, Cougar Classic; T-8, Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship; T-47, Darius Rucker Intercollegiate; WD, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge (doesn’t count in rankings)

The buzz: If this were a perseverance award, Kupcho would win hands down. Suffer a freak concussion and return by posting your worst finish of the season? No biggie. Oh, and two star freshmen will leave the team as the spring unfolds? Yep, still going to play good golf. We have absolutely no idea how Kupcho blocked all of that out, but she seemed to on the golf course. Since that concussion followed by a T-47 and learning of Mathilda Cappeliez’s departure, Kupcho has gone 2nd-T3-2nd-WIN. Stunning stuff. Of course, with the squad around her shifting, Wake Forest didn’t qualify to join Kupcho at NCAAs (she’ll play there as an individual). Kupcho is indeed playing at Rich Harvest Farms, though, so that shouldn’t affect her candidacy. Her dominant win at regionals was a big boost, deserving of a two-spot jump. That T-47 at Darius Rucker is still what probably sinks Kupcho, though. When you play the 136th-toughest schedule, you can’t afford a slip up even close to that. But overall, a very strong sophomore campaign for Kupcho, who deserves more recognition than she gets. At the very least, she deserves more props for her ability to manage the shifting sands around her.

4. Cheyenne Knight (Last time: 4)

Year: Sophomore

School: Alabama

2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 3

Results: WIN, Darius Rucker Intercollegiate; WIN, Mason Rudolph Championship; T-2, NCAA Athens Regional; T-3, The Landfall Tradition; T-5, SEC Championship; 6, The Schooner Fall Classic; T-9, Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational; T-10, Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic (3-0 in match play as well); T-16, Bryan National Collegiate; T-17, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge

The buzz: Another top five thanks to a T-2 in Athens. Really strong sophomore campaign from one of women’s college golf’s elite talents. Knight probably isn’t going to do enough to win this award, but she can definitely look back at her 2016-17 campaign with fond memories.

5. Lilia Vu (Last time: 3)

Year: Sophomore

School: UCLA

2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 5

Results: WIN, Pac-12 Championship; WIN, Silverado Showdown; WIN, Anuenue Spring Break Classic; WIN, Bruin Wave Invitational; 2, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; T-5, Stanford Intercollegiate hosted by Condoleezza Rice; 11, East Lake Cup; T-13, NCAA Lubbock Regional; T-24, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; T-32, Nanea Pac-12 Preview

The buzz: The UCLA sophomore may play more outstanding golf than anyone in the women’s college game, but she hasn’t been able to control her bad days like the top four on this list. Vu ends her season with the most wins (four) of anyone on this list. Yet, she also has just as many finishes outside the top 10. Vu’s four non-top 10s just beat out the five the Nos. 1-4 on this list have combined. So if UCLA wants a third winner of this award next year, Vu knows what she needs to cut down on. The sophomore and her No. 1 seed UCLA squad shockingly missed out on the NCAA Championship, so she won’t even be there this year. That could serve as extra motivation for what could be a blistering 2017-18 campaign if she can get everything clicking.

• • •

There’s just one event left in the season, so certainly any player outside the top five list above has no chance at this year’s ANNIKA Award. With that, we look to the future.

Here are some of the other promising ANNIKA Award options for the 2017-18 season. (Note: Year in school next to each name refers to player’s 2017-18 school year)

Promising Prospects for 2017-18

  • Kristen Gillman, Alabama (So.)
  • Linnea Strom, Arizona State (Jr.)
  • Jillian Hollis, Georgia (Jr.)
  • Lauren Stephenson, Alabama (Jr.)
  • Haley Moore, Arizona (Jr.)
  • Patty Tavatanakit, UCLA (Fr.)

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