Haskins Watch: Cal's Kim stays on top

Michael Kim of University of California during the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational.

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College golf is a team game in an individual sport. That's why individual honors, such as the Haskins Award, are so important. An NCAA Championship is everyone's goal, but most college players have one eye on professional golf, as well.

Winning the Haskins Award puts players on the same list as stars such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Justin Leonard, David Duval, Stewart Cink, Jay Haas, Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan.

The Haskins Watch List takes a look at some of the favorites for this season's award. This year's race seems to be especially wide open. It's important to note that players not on the list are not excluded from consideration. Anyone can jump into contention with a win or two this spring. The Haskins Award is voted on by players, coaches and media.

A lot can change in the postseason, though. Victories in regionals or at the NCAA Championship obviously can have a huge impact on a players’ candidacy. Here’s the top contenders as the postseason nears:

• • •

1. Michael Kim, Cal sophomore

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 1

Golfstat Cup: 1

Last Haskins List rank: 1

Events: 12

Wins: Isleworth Collegiate Invitational; Arizona Intercollegiate; Fresno State Lexus Golf Classic; Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters

Top-10s: 10

Top-5s: 6

Worst finish: T-11, ASU Thunderbird Invitational; T-11, Pac-12 Championship

Last finish: T-11, Pac-12 Championship

The skinny: Kim may have matched his worst finish of the season, but when that’s an 11th-place finish in arguably the nation’s strongest conference, you’re not doing much damage to your resume.

• • •

2. Brandon Stone, Texas freshman

photo

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 2

Golfstat Cup: 4

Last Haskins List rank: 6

Events: 10

Wins: Carpet Capital Collegiate; Bayou City Collegiate; Big 12 Championship

Top-10s: 6

Top-5s: 6

Worst finish: T-36, Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters

Last finish: Won, Big 12 Championship

The skinny: A win at the Big 12 Championship allowed Stone to join the class of three-time winners. He’ll probably need a win at either regionals or the NCAA Championship to overtake Michael Kim, though.

• • •

3. Cory Whitsett, Alabama junior

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Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 3

Golfstat Cup: 10

Last Haskins List rank: 3

Events: 11

Wins: Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters; Linger Longer Invitational; Aggie Invitational

Top-10s: 8

Top-5s: 6

Worst finish: T-43, Ping-Golfweek Preview

Last finish: T-3, SEC Championship

The skinny: His slow start to the fall may make it hard for him to catch Michael Kim, but no one in the country is hotter than Cory Whitsett.

• • •

4. Patrick Rodgers, Stanford sophomore

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Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 6

Golfstat Cup: 6

Last Haskins List rank: 2

Events: 11

Wins: Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational; U.S. Collegiate; Southern Highlands Collegiate Invitational

Top-10s: 6

Top-5s: 4

Worst finish: T-49, Amer Ari Invitational

Last finish: T-11, Pac-12 Championship

The skinny: A win at Pac-12s would’ve allowed him to make up ground on Michael Kim. No one has won three better tournaments this year, but a couple poor finishes hurt his candidacy.

• • •

5. Albin Choi, North Carolina State junior

photo

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 12

Golfstat Cup: 5

Last Haskins List rank: 4

Events: 12

Wins: Tar Heel Intercollegiate; Warrior Wave Intercollegiate; Puerto Rico Classic; USF Invitational; Wolfpack Spring Open

Top-10s: 10

Top-5s: 8

Worst finish: T-24, ACC Championship

Last finish: T-24, ACC Championship

The skinny: He’s won five times this year, but his strength of schedule keeps him from being higher on this list. The ACC Championship was a perfect opportunity to catch Kim, but Choi had his worst finish of the season.

• • •

6. Julien Brun, TCU sophomore

photo

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 4

Golfstat Cup: 3

Last Haskins List rank: 5

Events: 11

Wins: Carmel Cup; Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate; National Invitational Tournament

Top-10s: 8

Top-5s: 5

Worst finish: T-21, Isleworth Collegiate Invitational

Last finish: T-7, Big 12 Championship

The skinny: Brun was a runner-up at last year’s NCAA Championship and a first-team All-American. It looks like he’s headed for a similarly impressive season.

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