Norman Xiong (Oregon Athletics photo)
DUBLIN, OH (May 31, 2018) – Norman Xiong of Oregon, Florida Southern’s John VanDerLaan, Josh Gibson of Hope, Dalton State’s S.M. Lee, and Midland College’s Callum Bruce have been named the 2018 recipients of the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award presented by Barbasol. The Nicklaus Award recognizes the top players at the Division I, II, III, NAIA and NJCAA levels.
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.
Mr. Nicklaus will recognize the Nicklaus Award recipients the following day at 10 am during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
“We are honored to sponsor the Jack Nicklaus Award and to offer the Barbasol Shootout winner an exemption
into the Barbasol Championship.” said Tom Murray, CEO of Perio Inc., the parent company of Barbasol. “To earn the
exemption, regardless of Division, offers a unique and life-changing opportunity to play in a PGA TOUR event.”
Xiong, the Division I Nicklaus Award recipient, will also receive an exemption to the following year’s Memorial Tournament.
Division I: Xiong has set an Oregon record for wins in a season with six. The sophomore from Canyon Lake, Calif., sported a scoring average of 69.05 and has shot in the 60s in 23 of his 38 rounds. Xiong was first-team All-Pac 12 and a PING First-Team All-America selection. He has two additional top 10 finishes and has placed outside the top 25 only once in 13 events.
Division II: A Southbury, Conn., product, VanDerLaan tied for first or won outright eight times his senior campaign, a Florida Southern Record. VanDerLaan has placed in the top-10 in all but one of Florida Southern’s 12 tournaments this season. He was previously named Sunshine State Conference Men’s Golfer of the Year and a PING First-Team All-America selection, as well as claiming the Arnold Palmer National Individual Champion Award. VanDerLaan set Florida Southern’s season and career marks in stroke average with 69.05 and 70.88, respectively.
Division III: Gibson has posted four victories this season. The Grandville, Mich., native was runner-up three times and placed third twice. Gibson’s worst finish in 13 events was tied for 10th. The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Golfer and a PING First-Team All-America selection, Gibson posted a 70.50 stroke average for the season. He carded a school record 61 during the first round of the Adrian College Irish Hills Invitational.
NAIA: Lee has become the second repeat Nicklaus Award recipient for the NAIA and the seventh two-time winner overall. The Southern States Athletic Conference Player of the Year and PING First-Team All-America honoree, Lee posted five victories on the year. The sophomore from Buford, Ga., posted nine top three finishes in 11 events. Earlier this year he became the first NAIA player selected to compete in the Arnold Palmer Cup.
NJCAA: A freshman from Banff, Scotland, Bruce posted four victories this season. He also recorded four runner-up finishes and placed in the top 10 four other occassions. Bruce only finished outside the top 10 twice in 14 tournaments. He posted a 71.18 stroke average for the season. He was named a PING First-Team All-America selection.
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. Winners of the Nicklaus Award include Tiger Woods (1996), Phil Mickelson (1990-92), David Duval (1993), Justin Leonard (1994), Stewart Cink (1995), Luke Donald (1999), Hunter Mahan (2003), Bill Haas (2004), Ryan Moore (2005), Justin Thomas (2012), and Jon Rahm (2016) among many others. Award recipients have combined for over 200 victories worldwide and claimed 23 major championships.