2021 Nicklaus Award winners: Here are the 5 college stars named nation’s top players
DUBLIN, Ohio — True to its name, the Memorial Tournament revels in proud traditions that its host, the Nicklaus family, is eager to uphold. The course setup, the gray blazers worn by Muirfield honorees and, of course, the milkshakes — they’re all the touches that make the Memorial the Memorial.
On Sunday morning of tournament week, another tradition helps to distinguish the Memorial: the presentation of the Jack Nicklaus Award. Each year, the final day of tournament week serves as an official coronation for the winners of the award, given annually to the best male collegiate player in five respective divisions.
The five winners of the 2021 award are John Pak (Florida State, DI); Andrew Beckler (Washburn University, DII); James Mishoe (Guilford College, DIII); Ruan Pretorius (Point University, NAIA); and Ben Partridge (Hutchinson Community College, NJCAA).
Here’s what you need to know about each of the winners:
John Pak: The winner of the Haskins and Ben Hogan awards, Pak has been busy collecting hardware throughout the spring after an All-American senior season with Florida State. Pak is the first winner of the Nicklaus, Hastings or Hogan awards in Seminole program history, and leaves the program tied for the most wins ever. In addition to winning low amateur honors at the U.S. Open in September, Pak recorded a whopping 17-1 record vs. top-25 opponents throughout his senior season. In May, he was an integral part of the Walker Cup-winning United States squad at Seminole.
Andrew Beckler: A native of Topeka, Kan., Beckler graduates from Washburn as one of the school’s most decorated all-time golfers, owning the program’s all-time records for career scoring average, season scoring average and season win-loss percentage. He played in 10 events during his senior season at Washburn and won five of them, finishing in the top 5 in the remaining five events. He placed second at the NCAA Championships, the best finish ever for a Washburn player.
James Mishoe: From Cary, N.C., Mishoe won first-team All-American honors for his senior season at Guilford, in which he recorded six top-25 finishes and three top-5s. He was named the ODAC conference player of the year, in addition to collecting three ODAC player of the week awards.
Ruan Pretorius: Pretorius, a sophomore from Point University, represents one of two international Nicklaus Award winners in 2021. Raised in South Africa, Pretorius was the starring member of a Point University team that finished as the top-ranked team in the NAIA. Pretorius completed the season as the No. 1-ranked golfer in the conference with a comparative record of 1261-2.
Ben Partridge: The most-junior Nicklaus award winner by academic status, Partridge led Hutchinson Community College to its first-ever national championship, then won the NJCAA national individual championship in a four-hole playoff over teammate Harry Crockett — all as a freshman. In his first season over from his native London, Partridge won two tournaments, had six top-3 finishes and placed top 10 in 9 out of 10 tournaments.
The 2020 winners 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).
The group joined a list of former winners including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas.