2017 NAIA Jack Nicklaus Award presented by Barbasol Finalists Announced
NORMAN, Okla. – Five finalists have been named for the 2017 NAIA Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award presented by Barbasol. Rupert Kaminski of Oklahoma City, Dalton State’s SM Lee, Billy McKenzie of William Woods, Victoria’s Lawren Rowe, and Andrew Williamson of Wayland Baptist are finalists for the award. The winner will be announced June 1. 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 20-23, at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National in Opelika, Ala. The Barbasol Shootout will be held Saturday, June 3 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.
Kaminski, a sophomore from Johannesburg, South Africa, recently claimed back-to-back Sooner Athletic Conference Championship medalist honors, his fourth victory of the season. Kaminski has three additional top five finishes and has not placed outside the top 20 in nine tournaments. The Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year, he was a Nicklaus Award finalist last season.
A freshman from Buford, Ga., Lee began his college career winning the Thomas University Fall Invitational, one of four victories this season. In nine events he has finished no lower than sixth. The Southern States Athletics Conference Player of the Year, Lee leads the NAIA in adjusted stroke average.
McKenzie has tallied five victories his senior season. A native of Portsmith, England, he has placed in the top eight in nine of 10 tournaments with his worst showing 14th. A Nicklaus Award finalist for the third straight season, McKenzie was named American Midwest Conference Player of the Year for the second time.
In his third year at Victoria, Rowe has four wins on the season. In eight events competing for his hometown school, he has placed no worse than T11th with seven top-six finishes. Entering the the national championships, Rowe is ranked first in the NAIA in both Golfstat ranking and score versus par.
Williamson is a two-time Nicklaus Award finalist. He has three runner-up showings on the season and has not placed outside the top 15 in 11 events. A junior from Pretoria, South Africa, Williamson boasts a 71.71 stroke average and is currently ranked fourth in the NAIA in the Golfstat ranking.
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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