Haskins Award: 10 players to watch
We’re halfway through the college season, and
while there’s still plenty of important
tournaments remaining, several players have
put themselves in front of the race for the
Haskins Award, which is awarded to college
golf's top player.
Cheng Tsung Pan
Here’s a look at the favorites. Players are
listed in order of their position in the
Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Those
outside the top 10 need not despair. A good
start to the spring can easily vault a player
into the Haskins Award conversation. Let's look
at the leading contenders after the fall season,
1. Cheng-Tsung Pan, Washington
Hometown: Bradenton, Fla.
Fall finishes: Won, Husky Invitational;
T-2, Ping-Golfweek Preview; T-3, Pac-12
Preview; T-2, U.S. Collegiate
The skinny: Pan’s consistency has to
be commended. He finished no worse than
third in his four starts, and has a 271-4-10
head-to-head record. He’s 20-2-4 against the
top 25 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College
Rankings. He also was runner-up at the Asian
Amateur, coming up one stroke short of a
berth in the 2013 Masters.
Coach's comment: "Pan made a big
commitment to his putting last spring and it is
paying off," said Washington head coach Matt
Thurmond. "He hasn’t hit the ball his best this
fall, but his putting and scoring ability have
carried him through. His concentration and
mental game are so strong that he’s been able
to be in the hunt every week. In his last six
events, he hasn’t finished worse than third
(U.S. Amateur stroke play, four college events
and the Asia-Pacific Amateur)."
2. Michael Kim, Cal sophomore
Hometown: Del Mar, Calif.
Fall finishes: T-2, Gopher Invitational;
T-10, Ping/Golfweek Preview; T-6, Pac-12
Preview; T-5, Alister Mackenzie Invitational;
Won, Isleworth Collegiate Invitational
The skinny: Kim, who stands 5-foot-
11, only weighs in at 135 pounds overcomes a
lack of distance with impressive accuracy. He
finished in the top-10 in every start this fall,
and his win at a long, tough Isleworth track
showed that his game can succeed anywhere.
Coach's comment: "He is such a
complete player from his great swing to his
solid short game and, of course, his
tremendous putting," said Cal head coach
Steve Desimone. "There just aren't any real
weaknesses. A year ago, Michael was a bit
short with most of his clubs but he's added
distance. He's not going to wow anybody with
his length, but it's more than adequate now.
His victory at Isleworth is testament to that.
The last two key components are his ability to
manage both his game and his temperament.
He makes very good decisions on the golf
course and he never lets a bad shot carry over
to the next one. He knows how to play the
game and, given his age, should only get
3. Brandon Stone, Texas freshman
Hometown: Pretoria, South Africa
Fall finishes: Won, Carpet Capital
Collegiate; T-16, Ping-Golfweek Preview; T-21,
Isleworth Collegiate Invitational
The skinny: The past two Haskins
Award winners – Patrick Cantlay and Justin
Thomas – were freshmen. Thomas started his
award-winning campaign with a victory at
Carpet Capital, just as Stone did this year.
Stone is currently the highest-ranked freshman
in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He
arrived at Texas as South Africa's top
Coach's comment: "Brandon Stone is
ane experienced young golfer whose father is a
professional golfer," said Texas head coach
John Fields. "The apple didn't fall far from the
tree. He is seriously competitive with positive
4. Justin Thomas, Alabama sophomore
Hometown: Goshen, Ky.
Fall finishes: 10th, Carpet Capital
Collegiate; T-26, Ping-Golfweek Preview; Won,
Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate; T-2,
Isleworth Collegiate Invitational; T-12,
Western Refining All-America Golf Classic.
The skinny: Thomas is trying to
become the first player to win consecutive
Haskins Awards since Phil Mickelson won three
in a row from 1990-92. That's impressive
company. Thomas is off to another strong
start this year, having finished in the top-10 in
three of five starts this fall.
Coach's comment: "Justin, like all
great players, has a great passion for golf,"
said Alabama head coach Jay Seawell. "He
works extremely hard at getting his game
better. He has big dreams and is driven to be
great. He really loves team golf and is a great
leader for our team. His best attribute is how
comfortable he is in uncomfortable situations.
He loves the back-nine pressure."
5. Jordan Spieth, Texas sophomore
Fall finishes: T-2, Carpet Capital
Collegiate; T-35, Ping-Golfweek Preview; 5th,
Isleworth Collegiate Invitational
The skinny: Spieth's season got off to
a solid start. The big question is how long his
college career will last. It's all but guaranteed
he will turn pro before the spring season
begins, thus taking himself out of the player-
Coach's comment: "First-class as a
player, is on the radar, a pleasure to Coach,"
said Texas head coach John Fields.
6. Patrick Rodgers, Stanford
Hometown: Avon, Ind.
Fall finishes: Won, Olympia
Fields/Fighting Illini; T-22, Pac-12 Preview;
Won, U.S. Collegiate; T-9, Gifford Collegiate;
T-12, Western Refining College All-America Golf
The skinny: Rodgers may be sixth in
the Golfweek rankings, but he's the only player
in the top 10 with multiple victories, and his
wins couldn't have come at bigger events.
Olympia Fields and the U.S. Collegiate are two
of the top events of the year. Rodgers' two
victories may give him a slight edge over Pan
in some people's esyes. Others will reward Pan
for his consistency.
Coach's comment: "Patrick's two wins
this fall were impressive in strong fields," said
Stanford head coach Conrad Ray. "His game
continues to evolve and improve. When Patrick
gets in the right spot mentally, stays patient,
and doesn't press too much, he is very
successful. I think he is geared up for an
impressive run in 2013."
7. Talor Gooch, Oklahoma State junior
Hometown: Midwest City, Okla.
Fall finishes: T-2, U.S. Collegiate; T-
6, Royal Oaks Intercollegiate
The skinny: Gooch is off to a good
start, but he's also only played two events. He
has work to do to keep his name in the player-
of-the-year conversation, but he also has the
ability to keep himself there.
Coach's comment: "Talor has done a
good job of improving almost every facet of his
game, particularly his short game and his
fitness," said Oklahoma State head coach Mike
McGraw. "He has made a real commitment to
both of those areas. He has continued to set
higher goals for himself and has built more
confidence along the way."
8. Julien Brun, TCU sophomore
Hometown: Antibes, France
Fall finishes: Won, Carmel Cup; T-21,
Isleworth Collegiate Invitational
The skinny: Brun has only played two
events, and his Carmel Cup win came in a 24-
player field, so he hasn't built up much of a
resume yet this season. Brun has already
established himself as one of college golf's top
players, though. He was a first-team All-
American as a freshman after winning three
times and finishing second at the NCAA
Championship. He also won on the Challenge
Tour this fall.
Coach's comment: “Julien was the
best player I’ve ever had already as a
freshman, and I think he's only continued to
get better this season," said TCU head coach
Bill Montigel. "In addition to winning our first
tournament this fall, he also had two
outstanding performances in Europe. That
victory he had on the Challenge Tour was
probably the most impressive one he's had so
far because, not only was he protecting a
one-shot lead down the stretch, he was
playing against pros and in front of his home
crowd. He has great commitment to improving
and a great work ethic. If he makes a bogey or
a double, he just takes his club, puts it in his
bag and walks to the tee box. He doesn’t really
try any wild shots out there. He just gets out
of trouble. He is a tremendous kid."
9. Trevor Simsby, Washington junior
Hometown: Carlsbad, Calif.
Fall finishes: T-2, Kikkor Golf Husky
Invitational; T-26, Ping-Golfweek Preview;
Won, Pac-12 Preview; T-5 U.S. Collegiate
The skinny: No one would've been
surprised to see two Washington players in the
top-10 after the fall season, but they would've
expected Chris Williams to join Cheng-Tsung
Pan near the top of the rankings. Instead,
Simsby has taken a large leap forward with his
career. The Pac-12 is the nation's strongest
golf conference, and Simsby was able to win
its preview tournament, which featured all 12
teams. He's finished in the top-5 in three of
four fall starts.
Coach's comment: "Trevor has
awesome golf skills and he has broken through
some comfort zones this fall," said Washington
head coach Matt Thurmond. "He’s handling
success and pressure better than ever and his
confidence increases with every round. He is a
really tough player and now he is developing
the self-belief to go with his skills and
10. Scott Fernandez, Iowa State
Hometown: Granada, Spain
Fall finishes: T-2, Northern
Intercollegiate; T-2, VCU Shootout; T-3,
The skinny: Fernandez's consistency
has been impressive, but his only hope of
winning the Haskins Award is if he starts
collecting wins. His schedule was ranked 440th
in the nation. Everyone else in the top-10
played a top-100 schedule in the fall.
Coach's comment: "Scott is an
explosive player," said Iowa State head coach
Andrew Tank. "He hits it long and makes a lot
of birdies. He's worked hard to improve his
wedge game and has become a more mature
player. I expect him to do great things this
* - Golfweek/Sagarin rankings as of Nov. 9