NAIA Jack Nicklaus Award presented by Barbasol Finalists Announced
NORMAN, Okla. – Five finalists have been named for the 2018 NAIA Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award presented by Barbasol. Reigning Nicklaus Award recipient SM Lee of Dalton State headlines a finalist group including Alec Dutkowski of Taylor, Oklahoma City’s Rupert Kaminski, Rowan Lester of Texas Wesleyan, and Wayland Baptist’s Andrew Williamson. The winner will be announced May 31. The Award presentation will be held at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, and presented by award namesake Jack Nicklaus during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.
In addition to receiving the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award, the five recipients will compete in the Barbasol Shootout for an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Barbasol Championship, held July 16-22, at the Champions at Keene Trace in Lexington, Ky. The Barbasol Shootout will be held Saturday, June 2 at the storied Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio - the same club where Jack Nicklaus first learned the game of golf as a young boy.
Dutkowski, a junior from Wakarusa, Indiana, has claimed five tournament victories this season. The Crossroads League Player of the Year owns a 71.4 scoring average in 26 tournament rounds this season. Dutkowski has 10 top-five finishes this season and only placed outside the top 10 once (14th) in 12 events.
Kaminski, a junior from Johannesburg, South Africa, earned medalist honor twice this season. He placed second in his last event at the Sooner Athletic Conference Championships and garnered all-tournament honors. Kaminski has seven top-five finishes and only placed outside the top 10 once in 12 tournaments this season.
The Southern States Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Lee has four wins on the year. The sophomore from Buford, Ga., has posted a 69.85 stroke average and leads the NAIA in both scoring vs. par and adjusted stroke average. Lee has eight top three finishes in 10 events. Earlier this year he became the first NAIA player selected to compete in the Arnold Palmer Cup.
A sophomore from Dublin, Ireland, Lester was named Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He has notched three wins this season. Lester has four additional top-five finishes this season and has placed no worse than 14th. He led the Sooner Athletic Conference with a scoring average of 70.65.
Williamson is a junior from Pretoria, South Africa. The top-ranked golfer in the NAIA Golfstat Ranking, he has one victory this campaign. Williamson has posted six additional top-five finishes and placed no worse than tied for ninth in 11 tournaments this season.
Nicklaus, a Big Ten and NCAA Champion at The Ohio State University, helped inspire and create the Jack Nicklaus Award in 1988 and it is now presented to the National Player of the year in NCAA Divisions I, II and III, as well as NAIA and NJCAA.
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