Braden Thornberry remains on top of the watch list for the 2018 Haskins Award presented by Stifel.
Thornberry, a junior at Ole Miss and the defending Haskins winner, has won twice this fall and not finished outside the top 5 as he heads to Hawaii to conclude the first part of the season.
However, Thornberry isn’t running away with things. Alabama’s Davis Riley, Oregon’s Norman Xiong and USC’s Justin Suh, all of whom have won at least once this fall, are hot on Thornberry’s trail. Also, don’t count out Doug Ghim of Texas, who just entered the top 5 after winning at the Golf Club of Georgia, or Cal’s Collin Morikawa and Oklahoma’s Brad Dalke, who have each put together consistent campaigns so far.
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.
Last season, Thornberry beat out LSU’s Sam Burns and Oregon’s Wyndham Clark for the Haskins Award.
Here is a look at the current candidates for this season’s Haskins Award:
1. Braden Thornberry
- Year: Junior
- School: Ole Miss
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 5
- Results: Won, Shoal Creek Intercollegiate; won, FAMC Intercollegiate; fifth, Erin Hills Intercollegiate
- The buzz: The defending Haskins winner closes out his fall campaign in Hawaii, looking for his third victory of the season. Thornberry has two wins in three starts and is a closing 75 at Erin Hills away from being perfect this fall. His 70. 22 scoring average doesn’t crack the top 20 in Division I, which slightly hurts his stock but doesn’t keep him from dropping from No. 1.
2. Davis Riley
- Year: Junior
- School: Alabama
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 1
- Results: Won, Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational; T-3, Carpet Capital Collegiate; T-6, Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate
- The buzz: Is tied for second in the nation with a 68.11 scoring average in nine rounds. Also owns a victory at Olympia Fields in the third toughest event of the fall according to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Has a big week at South Alabama’s tournament, the Steelwood Collegiate, this weekend as he needs to win to avoid taking a hit to his ranking.
3. Norman Xiong
- Year: Sophomore
- School: Oregon
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 7
- Results: Won, Nike Golf Collegiate; T-1, Rod Myers Invitational; T-42, Trinity Forest Invitational
- The buzz: That T-42 finish at Trinity Forest still stands out but Xiong has won twice and boasts a 69.11 scoring average. One of his wins came at the Nike Collegiate, which is ranked as the second toughest of the fall. Will close fall at East Lake Cup.
4. Justin Suh
- Year: Junior
- School: USC
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 2
- Results: Won, Trinity Forest Invitational; T-2, Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational; T-9, Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational
- The buzz: Ranks fourth in the country with a 68.22 scoring average while not finishing worse than T-9 this season. Will close fall at the St. Mary’s Invitational.
5. Doug Ghim
- Year: Senior
- School: Texas
- Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 9
- Results: Won, GC of Georgia Collegiate; T-8, Trinity Forest Invitational; T-18, Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational
- The buzz: He lost to several Haskins contenders at the Nike, but a T-18 won’t kill his chances of winning the award next spring. Ghim’s victory in Georgia came at the top-ranked event in terms in strength of field. He also boasts a 69.11 scoring average. His fall is over as he missed the opening event at Olympia Fields because of the Walker Cup. His April start at the Masters will force him to miss the Western, too.
- Brandon Wu, Jr., Stanford (3)
- Brad Dalke, Jr., Oklahoma (25)
- Collin Morikawa, Jr., Cal (37)
- Chandler Phillips, Jr., Texas A&M (17)
- Zach Bauchou, Jr., Oklahoma State (11)