Five college golfers joined a distinguished list of golf greats Tuesday when they were named the winners of the 2020 Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award Presented by GOLF.com. (This is GOLF.com’s first year as presenting sponsor.)
The recipients of the award, which recognizes the top male players in the country from five different collegiate divisions, were Sahith Theegala (Pepperdine, DI); Zach Zediker (Delta State, DII); Rob Wuethrich (Illinois Wesleyan, DIII); Ben Rebne (Dalton State, NAIA); and Jon Hopkins (Mississippi Gulf Coast, NJCAA).
Nicklaus historically presents the award to the five winners at the Memorial Tournament, in Dublin, Ohio. This year, because of the coronavirus, the presentation was conducted remotely. On Tuesday afternoon, the 2020 honorees joined Nicklaus on a video conference, during which the players reflected on a number of topics, ranging from the most memorable shots of their college careers to the best advice they’ve ever received. (You can watch part of the virtual roundtable above; we’ll be releasing more highlights throughout the week.)
“I have a special place in my heart for this award, and it’s always been a highlight for us at the Memorial Tournament when we have the opportunity to recognize these young men,” Nicklaus said.
Here’s what you need to know about the winners:
Sahith Theegala is the first-ever player from Pepperdine to win the Nicklaus Award. The 23-year-old won twice during his senior season and added four top-10 finishes over the course of the year. He never finished outside the top 20 during his farewell campaign, tallying a scoring average of 69.04 on his way to becoming the most outstanding golfer in Division I. Theegala made his first PGA Tour start as a professional at the Travelers Championship, in June. He also played in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week.
Zach Zediker finished the season with four wins on the strength of a 68.67 scoring average. He kicked off the year with a runner-up finish and then went on to win his next four events in a row. He was named a first-team Ping All-American and is the first Nicklaus Award winner from Division II Delta State.
Rob Wuethrich also won four events this season, finishing the season as the top-ranked golfer in Division III. His 70.2 scoring average helped ensure Wuethrich never finished outside the top six in any of his starts as he became the first Nicklaus Award winner from Illinois Wesleyan.
Ben Rebne finished the season with four wins under his belt, posting a 70.89 scoring average during his senior campaign. He earned All-American honors at the NAIA level and was awarded the Southern States Conference Player of the Year award at season’s end. Rebne is the fourth Dalton State player to win the Nicklaus Award in the last six years.
Jon Hopkins took home three titles at NJCAA events this season and also had four other top-10 finishes. He is the first winner of the Nicklaus Award from Mississippi Gulf Coast.