The 2016 Ben Hogan Award Watch List was recently released, and there is no shortage of big names included. The award recognizes the outstanding male amateur and collegiate golfer of the year, and the recipient also gets a spot in the Colonial National Invitation field. Twenty five of the best college golfers in the nation made the first cut. The list will be trimmed to 10 April 13th before a trio of finalists will be named May 3rd. The competition will be fierce as always, and here are a few of the favorites as things stand right now.
Jon Rahm – Arizona State
Jon Rahm, a senior for the Sun Devils, won the award a season ago and will be one of the favorites to win again this year. He’s currently ranked number five in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com rankings, and he’s having another strong season for the Sun Devils. He’s finished in the top 10 in every tournament this season, including a win at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational.
Maverick McNealy – Stanford
Maverick McNealy, a junior for the Cardinal, is the current standout at a college known for producing top golfers (Tiger Woods, Patrick Rodgers). He won the 2015 Haskins Award which is given to the Most Outstanding NCAA Collegiate Golfer. The young gun has finished in the top five in every tournament this season, including three victories. McNealy is probably the odds-on favorite at this point, but he’ll need to keep up the great play the next few months.
Beau Hossler – University of Texas
Beau Hossler, a junior for the Longhorns, is getting hot at the right time. He’s currently ranked second in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com rankings, and he’s coming off a win at The Jones Cup. That’s one of the biggest Amateur Golf events on the calendar. He’s finished in the top 10 in every tournament this season, including two victories. His latest victory came just a couple weeks ago at the Arizona Intercollegiate.
Robbie Shelton – Alabama
Robbie Shelton, a junior for the Crimson Tide, has been in the spotlight for years. He was the 2014 NCAA Freshman Golfer of the Year and was a member of the NCAA Championship team that same season. He tied for 13th in his first event of the season before picking up consecutive victories at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup and Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate. He finished the fall with a tie for ninth in Hawaii.
Charlie Danielson – Illinois
Charlie Danielson, a senior for the Fighting Illini, is finishing his great college career on a high note. He started the season with a tie for third at the Northern Intercollegiate before taking medalist honors at the Crooked Stick Invitational a month later. He finished in a tie for seventh in his next event and finished the fall going 2-0 at the East Lake Cup broadcast live on The Golf Channel. To top things off, Danielson recently won the Northern Trust Open Collegiate Showcase which earned him a spot in the Northern Trust Open field.
Aaron Wise – Oregon
Aaron Wise, a sophomore for the Ducks, is quickly rising the college golf ranks. He won the first event (Husky Invitational) of the season, and he’s coming off a win in Hawaii this past weekend. He’s finished in the top 16 in every tournament so far and is up to eighth in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com rankings.
The Final Say
These six golfers may be a step ahead of the rest right now, but there is still a long way to go before it’s settled. Talented golfers Michael Johnson (Auburn), Tyler McDaniel (Kentucky), Hank Lebioda (Florida State), and a host of others have plenty of talent to challenge for the award by season’s end.
The Illinois golf program deserves a mention for putting three golfers on the watch list. Danielson, Thomas Detry, and Nick Hardy will not only be vying for the Hogan Award, they’ll also make the Fighting Illini very tough to beat in the team competition as well. It’s going to be a lot of fun to follow these golfers and more the next few months!