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Monday, October 19, 2009


An Early Look at Ben Hogan Award Candidates

 


By Ron Balicki

NORMAN, Okla. ?

  

Ron Balicki has covered college and amateur golf for Golfweek for the past 25 years.

Each year an initial watch list of potential candidates for the annual Ben Hogan Award is announced, usually in late January or early February.

Sponsored by Chesapeake Energy, in association with Colonial Country Club, The Friends of Golf (FOG) and the Golf Coaches Association of America, the Hogan Award is based on performance in both amateur and college golf events. The timing of the watch list, which usually features 20-25 players,  gives a pretty good indication as to who has been doing what over the previous eight months.

Considered one of the most prestigious honors in men?s college golf, the Hogan considers all those in NCAA Division?s I, II, and III, NAIA and NJCAA and takes into account all collegiate and amateur competitions during a 12-month period.

Clemson junior Kyle Stanley, who turned professional following this past season?s NCAA Championship, was the 2009 recipient.

While the watch list for the 2010 Hogan Award won?t come out until after the current fall season, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the leading candidates based on this summer?s amateur competition.

So here is Wrong Ron?s pre-watch list Distinguished Dozen.

And what better place to start than with four players who helped lead the United States to an impressive 16 1/2 to 9 1/2 win over Great Britain and Ireland the second weekend in September at the 42nd Walker Cup Match.

Peter Uihlein, Sophomore, Oklahoma State -- He went 4-0 in the Walker Cup. After a T18 at the NCAA Championship, he went T12 at Sunnehanna, T13 at Northeast, Sweet 16 at North & South, 6 at Southern, T4 at Porter Cup, co-medalist at his U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier, and a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Amateur.

Bud Cauley, Sophomore, Alabama -- He went 3-0-1 at the Walker Cup. Over the summer he won the Players Amateur, T9 at Northeast, T18 at Southern, medalist at his U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier, semifinalist at the Western Amateur and advanced to the Round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur.

Morgan Hoffmann, Sophomore, Oklahoma State -- Also undefeated at Walker Cup with a 2-0-1 record. After a T7 at last season?s NCAA Championship, he had a T9 at Northeast, T18 at Southern, was a quarterfinalist at the North & South, tied for 8th at the Nationwide Tour Children?s Hospital tournament, and advanced to match play at the U.S. Am.

Brendan Gielow, Senior, Wake Forest -- He went 1-2-0 at the Walker Cup after an outstanding summer where he won the Porter Cup and had T9 at Sunnehanna, 12 at Monroe, T9 at Northeast and 10 at Southern.

The eight others who most certainly warrant plenty of attention:

Matt Hill (Canada), Junior, North Carolina State -- He is the defending NCAA champion and Jack Nicklaus Award winner. He made the cut and tied for 70th at the PGA Tour?s AT&T National, won the Ontario Amateur, tied for 3rd at the Canadian Amateur and lost in a playoff to advance to match play at the U.S. Amateur.

Nick Taylor (Canada), Senior, Washington -- After tying for 9th at the NCAA Championship, he went on to Bethpage Black where he was low amateur (T36) at the U.S. Open. He won the Sahalee Players, was medalist and finished runner-up at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, tied for 34th at the Nationwide Tour Children?s Hospital and tied for 3rd at the Canadian Am.

Russell Henley, Junior, Georgia -- He tied for 9th at the NCAA Championship and was 2-0-0 in match play. He advanced to match play at the British Amateur, finished second at the Dogwood, won the Georgia State Amateur and tied for 29th at the Porter Cup.

Wesley Bryan, Sophomore, South Carolina -- After tying for 36th at the NCAA Championship, he tied for 2nd at the Northeast, was runner-up at the North & South, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Public Links, tied for 17th at Porter Cup and made match play at the U.S. Am.

Ben Martin, Senior, Clemson -- He qualified for this year?s U.S. Open where he just missed the cut. He tied for 12th at Sunnehanna, tied for second in the U.S. Amateur stroke play portion of the championship and was runner-up at the U.S. Am.

Steve Ziegler, Junior, Stanford -- After tying for 30th at the NCAA Championship, he advanced to the Sweet 16 at the British Amateur, won both the Colorado State Stroke and Match Play Championships and was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Amateur.

Phillip Mollica, Senior, Clemson -- He tied for second at the Monroe Invitational, tied for 11th at the Players Amateur, was co-medalist at his U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier, advanced to the Sweet 16 at the Western Amateur and was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Amateur.

David Chung, Sophomore, Stanford -- He won the North & South Amateur, tied for 18th at the Players Am, tied for 4th at Porter Cup, tied for 10th at the Cardinal Am, tied for 2nd at Scratch Players Am and advanced to match play at U.S. Am.

And as a quick bonus, here?s four more to keep a close eye on to round out my early Sweet 16 candidates: Harris English, Junior Georgia; Gregor Main, Sophomore, UCLA; John Hahn, Junior, Kent State; Sihwan Kim, Junior, Stanford.

Of course, a lot can happen during the rest of the fall season before than initial Hogan Award watch list comes out. And, you can bet a lot will happen and plenty of players will state their case during the spring season leading up to the announcement of the 2010 recipient in May at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

Heck, I wouldn?t have it any other way!

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