The women’s 2017-18 college season ended last month in dramatic fashion with Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho capturing the NCAA individual crown and Arizona claiming the team title.
The ANNIKA Award annually honors the player of the year in women’s college golf as selected by college golfers, coaches and members of the golf media. In the first four years of the award, Leona Maguire (2015, ‘17), Bronte Law (2016) and Alison Lee (2014) were the recipients.
The 2018 ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M will be announced Wed, June 6.
Looking ahead, here the early contenders for the 2019 ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M.
1. Lilia Vu, Sr., UCLA: Vu won four consecutive events as a junior and finished seventh or better in every tournament but one.
2. Maria Fassi, Sr., Arkansas: She finished 66th at NCAAs, a disappointing end to an otherwise sensational junior campaign that included six wins.
3. Lauren Stephenson, Sr., Alabama: She had an astounding eight top-3 finishes as a junior. Only two were wins, a close-out rate she’ll look to change.
4. Jennifer Kupcho, Sr., Wake Forest: Her four-win season ended with victories at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional and the NCAA Championship. Pretty stout.
5. Patty Tavatanakit, Soph., UCLA: The top freshman in the country won the Pac-12 Championship and NCAA San Francisco Regional to cap a four-win campaign.
6. Andrea Lee, Jr., Stanford: She followed a three-win fall with a less-than-optimal spring. But Lee’s been a player-of-the-year contender since the day she stepped on campus.
7. Kristen Gillman, Jr., Alabama: The consistency is there with nine top-10s as a sophomore. She’ll look to grab more than one win as a junior.
8. Olivia Mehaffey, Jr., Arizona State: A similar story to Gillman, as Mehaffey had one win and several other top-10s as a sophomore.
9. Dylan Kim, Sr., Arkansas: The Baylor transfer came up with six top-5 finishes as a junior, but none of them were wins.
10. Pimnipa Panthong, Jr., Kent State: Like Vu, Panthong won four events in a row at one point last season. Has a high bar for finishes with the weaker schedule she plays.
11. Jennifer Chang, Soph., USC: Entered the team a semester early in the spring and made the transition remarkably smooth. Got a win and finished 15th or better in every start but one.
12. Sierra Brooks, Jr., Florida: The Wake Forest transfer also started in the spring. She won two of her first three events and mixed in other high finishes with middle-of-the-pack ones.
13. Mariel Galdiano, Jr., UCLA: Had five top-5s as a sophomore but also a few middling performances she’ll look to eliminate this season.
14. Frida Kinhult, Fr., Florida State: The seventh-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Kinhult has won the Spanish Ladies’ Amateur the last two years and finished T-7 in a Ladies European Tour event in 2017.
15. Kaitlyn Papp, Soph., Texas: Had a few lackluster showings as a freshman, but countered those with two wins and six other top-10s. Gwk