The spring has started, which means the ANNIKA Award Watch List returns!
The ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M honors the player of the year in college women’s golf, as selected by a group of college golfers, coaches and members of the golf media.
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 ninth edition of the ANNIKA Award Watch List based on a combination of play this season and potential based on results prior to the beginning of the 2016-17 college season.
With further ado, the first spring edition of the ANNIKA rankings for 2016-17:
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1. Andrea Lee (Last time: 3)
2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 1
Results: WIN, Windy City Collegiate Championship; WIN, Peg Barnard Invitational; WIN, East Lake Cup; T-2, Stanford Intercollegiate hosted by Condoleezza Rice; T-23, Nanea Pac-12 Preview
The buzz: What a start for Andrea Lee. The freshman was highly touted, but three wins and a runner-up in five starts? Wow. Granted two of these high finishes were at home events and another was in an 18-hole limited field stroke-play event at the East Lake Cup. But even factoring that in, Lee has to be on top right now. She’s the frontrunner at the moment to make it three freshman winners of the ANNIKA in four years.
2. Leona Maguire (Last time: 5a)
2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 3
Results: WIN, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; 3, Windy City Collegiate Championship; T-3, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; T-3, East Lake Cup
The buzz: Maguire is indeed back this spring for Duke, and she wasted no time proving she’ll be an ANNIKA contender to the end. The junior opened her spring by co-medaling at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge. She was lacking a win and now she’s got it. Even for a former ANNIKA Award winner (2015), zero finishes outside the top 3 in four events is impressive.
3. Katelyn Dambaugh (Last time: 4)
School: South Carolina
2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 8
Results: 2, Cougar Classic; 5, Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational; T-5, The Landfall Tradition; T-6, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; 7, Seminole Match Up
The buzz: Dambaugh is basically always in contention, which is great. And she did move up this week. She needs to start picking up wins, though, to challenge for ANNIKA front-runner status this spring. If she can’t, she’ll likely finish as one of the top players in the nation but not a true threat for the ANNIKA (a pretty good worst case scenario, to be honest).
4. Jennifer Kupcho (Last time: 1)
School: Wake Forest
2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 4
Results: WIN, The Landfall Tradition; WIN, Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational; T-4, Cougar Classic; T-8, Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship; WD, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge
The buzz: Kupcho may have been the toughest to predict coming into the spring. She didn’t have the previous experience up here as some of the other contenders but still had the upper hand sitting at No. 1 to enter the spring. Could she build on an incredible autumn or would she fall back? Well, that’s even tougher to answer after her first tournament of the spring. The sophomore opened in a lackluster 75 at the Northrop Grumman and then mysteriously withdrew. The reasons for the early exit are unclear, but obviously a WD is a poor result. Was the WD due to a short-term issue or something that could linger? If the former, Kupcho falls this week but could easily jump right back up with a good follow-up. If it’s a sign of something that could affect her in future tournaments, things could be dicier. The Demon Deacons don’t return to competition until March 3, so there’s plenty of time to regroup. Something to keep an eye on, but if that WD is a one-time thing, Kupcho is good enough to remain on this list and has a good chance to fight for the ANNIKA this spring.
5. Cheyenne Knight (Last time: 5b)
2016-17 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 6
Results: WIN, Mason Rudolph Championship; T-3, The Landfall Tradition; 6, The Schooner Fall Classic; T-9, Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational; T-17, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge
The buzz: A T-17 to start the spring isn’t great or terrible. A closing 70 to jump 23 spots was a promising sign. The sophomore is holding steady on this list.
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The spring season is still in its infancy, but there were a few notable moves from players outside the top five. Here they are below.
Casey Danielson, Stanford
A solid start to the spring for the Cardinal senior as she placed solo fourth at the home Peg Barnard. Stanford returns to action this weekend, and if Danielson can post a high finish or a win, pretty good odds she’ll jump into the top 5.
Morgane Metraux, Florida State
A second win this season for the junior. She’s now moved up to No. 13 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, a spot behind teammate Matilda Castren. Both are candidates to crack the top-5 list some time this spring.
Dewi Weber, Miami
Nothing big here, but Weber gets dinged a little for failing to record a score in one of her rounds at the UCF Challenge. It meant she was out of the running for the tournament title. She’s still No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings and shouldn’t be hit too hard for this happening at one event. Let’s see how she rebounds.