DUBLIN, Ohio – Sam Burns of LSU; West Florida’s Chandler Blanchet; Logan Lanier of LaGrange; Dalton State’s SM Lee; and Tyler JC’s Marco Maldonado have all been named recipients of the 2017 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 competed in the Barbasol Shootout for an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Barbasol Championship, held July 20-23, at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National in Opelika, Ala. The Barbasol Shootout 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—was won by Division I Jack Nicklaus Award recipient Sam Burns of LSU with a 5-under 65, tying the Scioto club record for a competitive round. Burns will also receive an exemption to the 2018 Memorial Tournament.
Nicklaus recognized the Nicklaus Award recipients during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Division I: A sophomore from Shreveport, La., Burns posted four victories this season, including the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. He had two additional runner-up finishes and only placed outside the top nine once in 15 events. The SEC Player of the Year, Burns smashed LSU’s single-season scoring record with a 70.04 stroke average in 43 competitive rounds played on the season. The PING First-Team All-America selection was previously named to represent the United States in the Arnold Palmer Cup.
Division II: A junior from Gainesville, Fla., Blanchet produced seven tournament victories this season, including a final-round come-from-behind victory at the NCAA Division II National Championships. He had three additional top three finishes in his 11 events. He was a unanimous selection as Gulf South Conference Golfer of the Year. The current leader in all divisions in the Golfstat Cup, which measures adjusted stroke average at 68.71, Blanchet has posted 20 of his 31 rounds in the 60s and 26 rounds at par or better.
Division III: Lanier was a PING First-Team All-America selection. He also earned Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar honors. This season, he finished in the top five in nine of 10 tournaments. In addition to winning the USA South Tournament, Lanier tied for first at the Royal Lakes/Oglethorpe Fall Invitational. He graduated cum laude, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Mathematics. He received the school’s Eagle Award which is given to the top male and female student athlete. Lanier was a tutor in mathematics and a volunteer for the Our Daily Bread food program in LaGrange.
NAIA: A native of Buford, Ga., Lee won four tournaments this season, including his first career event and the Southern States Athletic Conference. His worst finish in 10 events was tied for sixth. The Southern States Athletics Conference Player and Freshman of the Year, Lee was also recipient of the Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award for NAIA. He was the best ranked NAIA player in the Golfstat Cup rankings. He earned PING First-Team All-America honors.
NJCAA: Maldonado has posted six victories this season, the Al Jones Memorial Invitational, Tyler JC Spring Invitational, Pinecrest Intercollegiate, Hal Sutton Intercollegiate, NJCAA Southwest Championship and the NJCAA District F Championship. He had three additional top 10 finishes. Maldonado placed in the top 20 in all 11 of 12 events. A PING First-Team All-America selection, he finished the year ranked first in the NJCAA Division II Golfstat rankings.
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 22 major championships.