Newly professional Fassi repeats as Annika Award winner
04 Jun 2019
by Julie Williams of AmateurGolf.com
see also: Maria Fassi Rankings
Maria Fassi during the U.S. Women's Open (USGA/Chris Keane)
Maria Fassi has crossed the amateur-golf threshold. She banked more than $100,000 in her professional debut last week at the U.S. Women’s Open. Her personality is magnetic and her game powerful, and on her way from one world to the next, Fassi has collected one last honor.
It’s a big one.
Fassi, the recent Arkansas graduate and NCAA individual champion, has repeated as winner of the Annika Award presented by Stifel. It’s the highest honor a female collegian can achieve, and is voted on by players, coaches and golf media.
Fassi becomes the second repeat winner after Duke’s Leona Maguire won the award in 2015 and 2017. She is the first to win it in back-to-back years.
The Annika Award winner annually receives an exemption into the Evian Championship, an LPGA major. Fassi wasn’t able to play in 2018, so her exemption was bumped to 2019. She’ll now also receive an exemption into the 2020 tournament.
Opportunities and notoriety aside, having Annika’s name on college golf’s pinnacle award also opens an important door – one to an LPGA Hall of Famer. Sorenstam is particularly good about this.
After being announced as the winner of last year’s Annika Award, Fassi shared a meal with Sorenstam and her family. Sorenstam personally called Fassi to inform her that she would be granted the 2019 Evian exemption. The two share a bond, as Sorenstam does with many up-and-comers in women’s golf. Her name draws people in to this sector of the game, where up until 2014, there was no such award for female collegians. But there's more to it than that.
“It’s more than just sharing a golf tip, a lot of it is personal,” Sorenstam said during the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Sorenstam’s mentorship role in this game – through the award as well as through college and junior tournaments her foundation sponsors – is unmatched. In the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur field, 59 players had competed in an Annika event.
When the Haskins Commission recognized that it needed a female equivalent to its Haskins Award, one name stood out.
“We knew that partnering with Annika would be great. She moves the needle maybe unlike any other female player,” said Brian Stubbs, Executive Director of the Fred Haskins Commission.