ANNIKA Award Watch List: Sept. 28, 2017

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ANNIKA Award Watch List: Sept. 28, 2017

Women

ANNIKA Award Watch List: Sept. 28, 2017

The 2017-18 Division I women’s college golf season is underway, and that means a new year in the race for the ANNIKA Award.

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.

After a couple weeks of play in the 2017-18 season, Kevin Casey has his early list of ANNIKA contenders. We’re changing up from last year’s opening list in that we are really focusing on the early results rather than letting last season play a huge role, too, initially. To be clear, a returning ANNIKA contender from 2016-17 will still get a boost thanks to that status coming into the season. But if such a contender has not played to her usual level so far this season or has yet to play at all, she will not be on this list. Don’t be alarmed then if a big name or two doesn’t appear: They have plenty of time to ramp up their play and move onto this list.

Without further ado, the initial ANNIKA rankings for 2017-18:

• • •

1. Leona Maguire

Year: Senior

School: Duke

Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 3

Results: WIN, Jim West Challenge

The buzz: The reigning ANNIKA winner (she’s captured two of the last three, in fact) began her season with a three-shot victory at the Jim West Challenge. Considering the reigning champ is off to this kind of start, she’s an early favorite for another ANNIKA.

2. Andrea Lee

Year: Sophomore

School: Stanford

Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 7

Results: WIN, Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational

The buzz: Follows up her Freshman of the Year campaign with a ho-hum co-medalist showing in New Mexico, coming from seven shots back in the final round to do so. Lee was at or near the top of this list a lot last year: Don’t expect that to change in 2017-18.

3. Lauren Stephenson

Year: Junior

School: Alabama

Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 1

Results: WIN, Mason Rudolph Championship; 2, Schooner Fall Classic

The buzz: This rising junior has begun her year with six straight rounds in the 60s. She’s been 26 under in that time and has been beaten by exactly one player (her own teammate, Kristen Gillman) combined in these two events. Her opening win is the only one factored into the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings right now, but it seems likely that runner-up would keep her at that No. 1 spot if tabulated today. And if the reigning first-team All-American continues to play well enough to stay at that No. 1 ranking, it won’t be long before she tops this list.

4. Maria Fassi

Year: Junior

School: Arkansas

Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 2

Results: WIN, Mason Rudolph Championship

The buzz: Fassi knows how to get off to fast starts. She’s now won the opening event in each of her three seasons at Arkansas after her triumph at Mason Rudolph. This one was particularly special as she had to finish birdie-eagle-par-birdie-birdie to reach 16 under and match Stephenson (who closed with five straight birdies) for medalist honors. Fassi has immense talent, but the key is following up on this win. She had just one more top 5 in 2016-17 after her initial win (at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M). Her first follow-up test this season will come at … where else? The ANNIKA Intercollegiate, which starts Sunday.

5. Alana Uriell

Year: Senior

School: Arkansas

Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 4

Results: 3, Mason Rudolph Championship

The buzz: She won the non-Stephenson/Fassi division at the Mason Rudolph, and started her year with three straight sub-70 rounds in doing so. Uriell was Arkansas’ leader in scoring average last season and had five top-11 finishes. Don’t doubt her as a possible mainstay on this list.

• • •

Next 5

  • Jaclyn Lee, Jr., Ohio State
  • Kathleen Scavo, Jr., Oregon
  • Dylan Kim, Jr., Arkansas
  • Linnea Strom, Jr., Arizona State
  • Muni He, So., USC

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