Power rankings: Player-of-the-year race

I dedicated the power rankings this week to individuals. This is the time we start to identify key individuals for the player-of-the-year race.

Men

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Georgia junior Russell Henley

1.) Russell Henley, Georgia. The top dog for Georgia won the SEC Championship in a playoff over South Carolina’s George Bryan IV. Henley will enter the postseason No. 1 in the country individually, and is a big reason for Georgia’s success.

2.) Dustin Garza, Wichita State. This Shocker continues to surprise many. Entering the MVC Championship April 26-27, Garza will look to win his seventh tournament of the year. He has proven to be a winner this year and was chosen, along with Henley, to represent Team USA in the Palmer Cup.

3.) Jonathan Randolph, Ole Miss. Another player that seems to have flown under the radar this year. Randolph has continuously climbed the rankings and has won three times this year. Will he have to carry his team in the postseason?

4.) Diego Velasquez, Oregon State. A top-10 staple in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Earlier in the year, Velasquez, a senior, won the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, and he only had one finish outside the top 25 all season. If Velasquez can win the Pac-10 Championship, he will quickly become the hot topic in the player-of-the-year race.

5.) Nick Taylor, Washington. Could we have back-to-back playera of the year from Canada? N.C. State’s Matt Hill ran away with the award last season, and Taylor could make a strong push if he were to win the Pac-10 Championship. Taylor has finished in the top 10 seven times this season, and his other finishes were an 11th, and T-22. Can’t get more consistent than that.

• • • 

Women

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Cydney Clanton at the 2009 U.S. Women's Amateur.

1.) Cydney Clanton, Auburn. This race just might be over already. Clanton has been dominant the entire year. She has not finished outside the top 10 and won the NCAA Fall Preview. She will be the favorite to win at the Country Club of Landfall – site of the NCAA Women’s Championship – again in a few weeks.

2.) Marina Alex, Vanderbilt. If Alex had a few more wins on the year, she could have already clinched the player of the year race by now. The sophomore has not finished outside the top 10, and won her first individual title last week at the SEC Championship. On the year her finishes are T-7, T-2, T-2, T-3, 2nd, 5th, T-6, 2nd, T-6, and then the win at SECs. On second thought, with a win at a regional or the NCAAs, she may very well be this year’s player of the year.

3.) Jennifer Song, USC. She would probably be higher in the power rankings if not for skipping some college events to play a few pro tournaments. Song started the fall with back-to-back victories and tied for third at the Pac-10 Championship. The only hiccup for her this year was a T-40 finish at a rain-shortened Wildcat Invitational.

4.) Jodi Ewart, New Mexico. New Mexico is a top-25 team this year because of Ewart. The senior has done everything she can for the Lobos. She has not finished outside the top 20 this season, and most recently won the Mountain West Conference Championship.

5.) Carlota Ciganda, Arizona State. It’s tough to pick just one Sun Devil, but I’m going with the back-to-back Pac-10 medalist. Ciganda has been a key contributor for the defending NCAA champs.

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