The 10 semifinalists for the 2018 Ben Hogan Award were announced Thursday by the Hogan Trophy Award Foundation, Friends of Golf and the Golf Coaches Association of America. And Texas senior Doug Ghim stands out as the early favorite to win the award.
The Ben Hogan Award is issued annually in May to the top men’s NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA or NJCAA college golfer taking into account all collegiate and amateur competitions during the past 12-month period. (So essentially from the 2017 NCAA Championship on.)
The group of semifinalists will be pared down May 2 to three finalists, who will then travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to attend a black-tie banquet where the winner will be crowned at Colonial Country Club on May 21, prior to the start of the PGA Tour’s Fort Worth Invitational.
Ghim, who is from Arlington Heights, Ill., should already have a spot at that dinner locked up. Remember, this is a college golf and amateur golf award, and Ghim has several notable amateur accomplishments on his resume. He won the Pacific Coast Amateur and finished runner-up at the U.S. Amateur last summer. He also went 4-0 in both the Walker Cup and Palmer Cup, and was second alternate at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying.
Most recently – and most notably – Ghim was the low amateur at the Masters last week, recording three eagles en route to a T-50 finish.
As a senior at Texas, he has won once, at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate (one of the best fields of the regular season), and posted three other top-10s in seven starts.
Ghim’s closest challenger is likely Ole Miss junior Braden Thornberry. Not only did Thornberry win the NCAA title last June, but he also captured the Sunnehanna Amateur, went 2-1 at the Walker Cup and tied for fourth at the PGA Tour’s FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
This season the Olive Branch, Miss., native has won three times and posted three other top-10s in eight starts.
Cal junior Collin Morikawa is probably third right now behind a 4-0 performance at the Walker Cup, win at the Sunnehanna Amateur, runner-up finishes at the Trans-Miss and Sunnehanna amateurs, Round-of-16 showing at the U.S. Amateur and a made cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Morikawa has seven top-10s in college this season, including three wins.
However, Oregon sophomore Norman Xiong is quickly making a strong case to be a Hogan Award finalist. Xiong went 3-0-1 at the Walker Cup, was runner-up in stroke play at the U.S. Amateur before falling in the Round of 64 and won the Western Amateur, which is considered one of the toughest amateur events to win. He also has five wins, but also three finish outside the top 20 in college this season.
Vanderbilt senior Theo Humphrey has a shot to make the dinner, as well, but he’ll probably have to win the Mason Rudolph this weekend and the SEC Championship. Humphrey has just one win in college this season, but he has cracked the top 11 in seven of eight starts. His amateur resume lacks a win, but is still strong. He was runner-up at the Jones Cup and Northeast Amateur, and T-3 at the Players Amateur. He went 2-0 at the NCAA Championship last June after tying for third in stroke play. And he was T-3 in U.S. Amateur stroke play before advancing to the semifinals at Riviera.
All 10 semifinalists are currently ranked among the top 30 in each of the four major ranking systems—Golfstat NCAA Player Ranking, Golfweek/Sagarin Collegiate Individual Rankings, Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking and World Amateur Golf Ranking. Ghim is No. 1 in Scratch, Morikawa is No. 1 in Golfstat and Golfweek, and Braden Thornberry is slated to be No. 1 in the WAGR after Joaquin Niemann turns pro this spring.
Each semifinalist’s school receives a scholarship grant for its men’s golf program. Since 2002, the Hogan Trophy Award Foundation has awarded more than $700,000 in scholarships to more than two dozen universities.
The Ben Hogan Trophy was first issued in 1990 at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles. In 2002, the Ben Hogan Award moved to Colonial Country Club and also revised its criteria to its current standard of honoring the outstanding amateur collegiate golfer. In 2005, the tradition of inviting the three finalists began.
Winners of the Ben Hogan Award include Jon Rahm (2015, ’16), Rickie Fowler (2008) and Ryan Moore (2005).
Here are the 10 2018 Ben Hogan Award semifinalists:
- Shintaro Ban, UNLV, Sr., San Jose, Calif.
- Zach Bauchou, Oklahoma State, Jr., Forest, Va.
- Doug Ghim, Texas, Sr., Arlington Heights, Ill.
- Viktor Hovland, Oklahoma State, So., Oslo, Norway
- Theo Humphrey, Vanderbilt, Sr., Greenwich, Conn.
- Collin Morikawa, California, Jr., La Cañada Flintridge, Calif.
- Fredrik Nilehn, Texas Tech, Sr., Goteborg, Sweden
- Justin Suh, USC, Jr., San Jose, Calif.
- Braden Thornberry, Ole Miss, Jr., Olive Branch, Miss.
- Norman Xiong, Oregon, So., Canyon Lake, Calif.