Braden Thornberry won the NCAAs, the Sunnehanna, and the Jones Cup in 2017
In a breakout year that saw him win three of amateur golf's biggest championships, Braden Thornberry
of Olive Branch, MS is the AmateurGolf.com Men's Player of the Year.
The AmateurGolf.com Men's Player of the Year is awarded based on a point system earned through performance in major amateur events throughout the course of the year. The year, the 20-year-old Thornberry easily outdistanced his Walker Cup teammates Doug Ghim and Collin Morikawa to earn the award.
Final POY Points Standings, 2017
When the year started, Thornberry wasn't even on the radar for Walker Cup consideration.
But when he went to the Jones Cup in Sea Island in February and won in wire-to-wire
he caught the eye
of U.S. Team Captain Spider Miller.
In April, Thornberry, then a sophomore at the University of Mississippi, won the Ryman Hospitality Intercollegiate by 13 shots
over runner-up Dawson Armstrong.
From there, his golf kept betting better with each event, culminating in the best stretch of golf in his career thus far.
A third-place finish at the SEC Championship was followed by a fourth-place finish in the NCAA South Central Regional, from which Ole Miss advanced to the NCAA Championships.
In the NCAAs, played at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois, Thornberry grabbed the lead with an opening-round 66 before ultimately prevailing by four shots
over Mason Overstreet of the University of Arkansas.
His college honors included winning the Haskins Award
as the most outstanding men's collegiate golfer (the first Ole Miss player to win the award), and being named a PING Division I First-Team All-American
. He was also named to the 2017 All-Nicklaus Team, the All-SEC First Team, and the PING Southeast All-Region Team.
The same week he received the Haskins Award, Thornberry traveled to Memphis to play in his first pro event, the PGA Tour's FedEx St. Jude Classic. Against a field of PGA Tour professionals, Thornberry played better each round, posting scores of 71-69-67-65 to finish in a tie for 4th
, just two shots behind the winner Daniel Berger.
From there he went to the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, PA, where he shot four straight rounds in the 60s (closing with 65-65) to get into a playoff with the defending champion Collin Morikawa. Thornberry won the three-hole aggregate playoff for his third big tournament result in as many weeks.
After playing in the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic, Thornberry had a top-ten finish at the Pacific Coast Amateur, and then made the second round of match play at the U.S. Amateur at Riviera Country Club. After that tournament, he was named to the United States Walker Cup team
. The next month at Los Angeles Country Club, he helped the U.S. reclaim the Walker Cup
, winning two of his three matches.
Players of the Year
Back on campus, Thornberry started his junior season with wins in two of his first three college tournaments, taking the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate by eight shots
and the Franklin American Mortgage Intercollegiate by five shots.
In November, Thornberry played in his third PGA Tour event of the year, making the cut and finishing three under
at the RSM Classic in Sea Island, GA.
“This game has been so special to me,” Thornberry told Ole Miss Sports when asked to reflect on his latest honor. “My game has gone to a new level, and I have learned so much.”
“Winning the AGC Player of the Year validates all the hard work I have put in this year,” Thornberry said. “I’m looking forward to what 2018 has in store!”
Finishing as the runner-up to Thornberry was Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, IL, the Pacific Coast Amateur champion who so nearly won the U.S. Amateur at Riviera. Collin Morikawa of La Cañada Flintridge, CA, the Northeast Amateur champion and AGC California Player of the Year for 2017, was third. U.S. Amateur champion Doc Redman of Raleigh, NC was fourth, while Shintaro Ban of San Jose, CA rounded out the top five.
Trans-Mississippi champion Cameron Champ of Sacramento, CA and Western Amateur champion Norman Xiong of Canyon Lake, CA took the next two places, followed by Australian Min Woo Lee, Theo Humphrey of Greenwich, CT and Justin Suh of San Jose, CA
Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings
| Complete 2017 Points List (2515 players)