In women’s college golf, the mid-season exodus is old news. It happens almost every year after LPGA Q-School. This winter, five top players will leave their teams to turn professional with the start of the 2020 LPGA and Symetra Tour seasons. Those players include Albane Valenzuela and Andrea Lee from Stanford, Sierra Brooks from Florida, Frida Kinhult from Florida State and Jennifer Chang from USC.
Four of those players were tabbed as Golfweek Preseason First-Team All-Americans (Brooks was second-team).
Their departure not only changes the landscape for teams hoping to make a postseason run, but also vacates some headlines for players in the running for individual postseason awards.
The ANNIKA Award Presented by Stifel goes to the top player in college women’s golf, as selected by college golfers, coaches and members of the golf media. This is the first edition of the ANNIKA Award Watch List since those five players have announced plans to turn professional.
Get to know a few of the up-and-comers who will have the opportunity to step up in the spring season. Interestingly, half of the 10 players highlighted below are freshmen. Alison Lee (UCLA) and Leona Maguire (Duke) were the first two recipients of the ANNIKA Award as freshmen in 2014 and 2015, respectively, but a newcomer hasn’t claimed the honor since.
Players are listed alphabetically.
Ana Belac, Duke
Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 9
Golfstat Ranking: 36
Scoring Average: 72.14
Par 3 Average: 3.04
Par 4 Average: 4.11
Par 5 Average: 4.71
Belac balanced her own LPGA Q-School run with the fall college season, advancing to second stage but falling short of an LPGA card. The senior from Slovenia had respectable top-25 finishes in two of the fall’s strongest fields, the ANNIKA Intercollegiate and the Windy City. She was medalist at the East Lake Cup on the strength of a 3-under 69 in qualifying and went 1-1 in her head-to-head matches that week.