What a battle this is shaping up to be!
LSU sophomore Sam Burns and Oregon senior Wyndham Clark are neck and neck in the race for the 2017 Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel. Burns may have the slight edge now, but there is still plenty of time for Clark – or someone else, for that matter – to make a run.
Remember: coaches, players and media members can vote for the award. Voting begins on May 18, right after the conclusion of the NCAA regionals.
The Haskins Award is given annually to the best college player, as voted by players, coaches and media. Haskins Award winners over the years include such notable future professionals as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan.
Texas’ Beau Hossler won the 2016 Haskins Award, beating out Arizona State’s Jon Rahm and Stanford’s Maverick McNealy, the 2015 Haskins winner.
Here are my current top candidates for the 2017 Haskins Award:
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1. Sam Burns
- Year: Sophomore
- School: LSU
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 2
- Results: Won, Louisiana Classics; Won, Western Refining College All-America Classic; T-1, David Toms Intercollegiate; second, The Prestige at PGA West; second, Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic; T-4, Valspar Collegiate; T-6, Carpet Capital Collegiate; eighth, Maui Jim Intercollegiate; T-9, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate; T-9, General Hackler Championship
- Scoring average: 69.41
- The buzz: Burns may be second in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, but he does have one more individual title and 21 more head-to-head wins against the top 50 than Clark does. Yes, Burns has played three more stroke-play events than Clark, but that actually helps him at this point, in my opinion, because he can claim he still hasn’t finished worse than T-9 in any of those events. Ten top 9s, including three wins and two runner-up finishes, is pretty impressive and definitely Haskins worthy. Plus, Burns has played the 73rd-toughest schedule in the country compared to Clark’s 114th-toughest. LSU has one more event left before the SEC Championship, so Burns could have as many as four more opportunities to pad his Haskins resume.
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2. Wyndham Clark
- Year: Senior
- School: Oregon
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 1
- Results: Won, Arizona Intercollegiate; T-1, Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate; second, Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational; T-2, Bandon Dunes Championship; T-3, Paintbrush Intercollegiate; T-6, East Lake Cup (stroke play); T-10, Amer Ari Invitational; 2-0 in East Lake Cup match play
- Scoring average: 69.16
- The buzz: Clark is second on the list, but not by much. Like Burns, he hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 in any stroke-play events. He has lost to just 18 players all season, which leads the country among players who have played at least seven events, like Clark. His strength of schedule hurts him a tad, but Clark has plenty of time to win the Haskins – Oregon has three more tournaments before the Pac-12 Championship, including a home event, so that means potentially six more starts for Clark.
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3. Collin Morikawa
- Year: Sophomore
- School: California
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 6
- Results: Won, ASU Thunderbird Invitational; T-1, Southern Highlands Collegiate; third, Alister Mackenzie Invitational; T-3, John Burns Intercollegiate; T-7, Querencia Cabo Collegiate; T-5 Gopher Invitational; T-9, Maui Jim Invitational; T-20, Arizona Intercollegiate
- Scoring average: 69.33
- The buzz: Two straight victories have rocketed Morikawa up this list. He has seven top 10s in eight starts and his 69.33 scoring average is impressive. Morikawa is 22-9-1 against the nation’s top 25, which helps him considering his strength-of-schedule rank is 137th. One thing that will hurt Morikawa, though, is that Cal is well below the .500 mark (54-74-2) and likely won’t qualify for a regional bid. So that means Morikawa has two more starts left this season, unless he qualifies for regionals and nationals as an individual, which is very possible.
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4. Will Zalatoris
- Year: Junior
- School: Wake Forest
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 4
- Results: Won, General Hackler Championship; T-2, Valspar Collegiate; T-2, Rod Myers Invitational; seventh, Nike Golf Collegiate; T-7, Querencia Cabo Collegiate; T-12, SunTrust Gator Invitational; T-24, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate
- Scoring average: 70.1
- The buzz: Zalatoris made a big jump thanks to his victory at the General Hackler Championship and T-2 performance at the Valspar Collegiate. The T-24 at GC of Georgia hurts him slightly, but he has played the 34th-toughest schedule in the nation and posted five top 7s, including a win and two seconds. Wake has two regular-season events left before the ACC Championship, so Zalatoris has potentially five more starts coming his way.
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5. Maverick McNealy
- Year: Senior
- School: Stanford
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 3
- Results: Won, Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational; third, Gifford Collegiate (stroke play); fourth, Amer Ari Invitational; 16th, Southern Highlands Collegiate; T-18, The Prestige at PGA West; T-29, Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate
- Scoring average: 69.82
- The buzz: The 2015 Haskins winner has two more regular-season events, the Pac-12 Championships, plus NCAA regional and (potentially) NCAA Championships starts left, so he’s not out of the race just yet. His scoring average is still good and he’s ranked third by Golfweek for a reason. Him playing the 18th-toughest schedule helps, as well. He’ll have to win at least two more times, though, to challenge Burns or Clark.
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- Sean Crocker, Jr., USC
- Matthias Schwab, Sr., Vanderbilt
- Chandler Phillips, Soph., Texas A&M
- Rico Hoey, Sr., USC
- Norman Xiong, Fr., Oregon