Maverick McNealy of Stanford, Nova Southeastern’s Santiago Gomez, Anthony Maccaglia of Oglethorpe, Dalton State’s Sean Elliott and Eastern Florida State College’s Kerry Sweeney have been named the 2015 recipients of the 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 a Nicklaus Award, the five recipients of the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award will compete for an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Barbasol Championship, held July 16–19, at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National in Opelika, Alabama. The competition will be held Saturday, June 6, at the storied Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio — the same club where Jack Nicklaus learned the game of golf as a young boy. The fivesome will tee off at 12:10 pm. Following the round, Tom Murray, President and CEO of Perio Inc., the parent company of Barbasol, will present the golfer with the lowest score an invitation to the Barbasol Championship.
Mr. Nicklaus and Mr. Murray will recognize the Nicklaus Award recipients the following day at 10 am during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
“We are honored to sponsor the Jack Nicklaus Award and to offer the playoff winner an exemption into the Barbasol Championship.” said Mr. Murray. “To earn the exemption, regardless of Division, offers a unique and life changing opportunity to play in a PGA TOUR event.”
McNealy, the Division I Nicklaus Award recipient, will also receive an exemption to the following year’s Memorial Tournament.
Division I: A sophomore from Portola Valley, Calif., McNealy led NCAA Division I with six collegiate victories this year. He posted a dominant 10-stroke win at the Pac-12 Conference Championships, where his 18-under aggregate score of 262 established a new league tournament scoring record. The Pac-12 Conference Player owns a 69.05 season scoring average, the second best in recorded NCAA history. McNealy claimed medalist honors at the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional, Southwestern Intercollegiate, Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational, The Prestige at PGA West and The Goodwin. McNealy was selected to compete this summer on the United States Palmer Cup team.
Division II: A junior from Armenia, Colombia, Gomez finished the season as the No. 1-ranked golfer in Division II. He earned First-Team PING All-American honors and was named Sunshine State Conference Men’s Golfer of the Year, as well as First Team All-Sunshine State. Gomez placed no worse than eighth place in 12 events on the season and tallied 11 top-five finishes. His birdie putt on the final hole of match play at the national championships earned the clinching point, giving Nova Southeastern a 3-2 win and the NCAA Championship. In total, Gomez was 3-0 in match play at the NCAA Championships.
Division III: A native of Tampa, Fla., Maccaglia was named a Division III PING First-Team All-America selection for a fourth consecutive year. He earned his second successive Southern Athletic Association Men’s Golfer of the Year Award and was named first-team all-conference for the fourth straight year. Maccaglia finished first four times this year and recorded six additional top three finishes. He only posted one finish outside the top three in 11 events. Maccaglia also excelled in the classroom. He was the recipient of the Southern Athletic Association Man of the Year Award and was a finalist for the Byron Nelson Award presented by Cleveland Golf/Srixon.
NAIA: A sophomore from Westfield, N.J., Elliott has won three events on the season, including closing the year with back-to-back victories at the Southern States Athletic Association Championships and the NAIA National Championships. Elliott’s NAIA Championships four-round total of 272 broke the 60-year old scoring mark set by Ray Ferguson of North Texas State in 1955. Elliott was previously named PING First-Team All-America and first team all-conference. He posted an NAIA season best scoring average of 70.67 during his sophomore campaign.
NJCAA: Hailing from Melbourne, Fla., Sweeney earlier this spring was awarded PING First-Team All-America honors. He also won the NJCAA Division I Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award presented by the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation. Sweeney captured three straight individual titles this spring and tied for runner-up at the NJCAA Division I Championships. He posted seven total top-five finishes and placed outside the top-10 only twice in 10 events.
Since 1988, the award for the GCAA Collegiate Players of the Year have been named after Jack Nicklaus, a Big Ten and NCAA Champion and GCAA All-American at The Ohio State University. 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) and Justin Thomas (2012) among many others. Award recipients have combined for over 200 victories worldwide and claimed 22 major championships