Jon Rahm (Arizona State), John Coultas (Florida Southern), Addison Lambeth (Huntingdon), Peter French (Johnson & Wales (FL)) and Kerry Sweeney (Eastern Florida State) have been named the 2016 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 the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award, the five recipients will compete in the Barbasol Shootout for an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Barbasol Championship, held July 14-17, at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National in Opelika, Ala. The Barbasol Shootout will be held Saturday, June 4 at storied Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio — the same club where Jack Nicklaus learned the game of golf as a young boy.
The Golden Bear will recognize the Nicklaus Award recipients 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 Barbasol Shootout winner an exemption into the Barbasol Championship.” said Tom Murray, President and CEO of Perio Inc., the parent company of Barbasol. “To earn the exemption, regardless of Division, offers a unique and life-changing opportunity to play in a PGA TOUR event.”
Rahm, the Division I Nicklaus Award recipient, will also receive an exemption to the following year’s Memorial Tournament.
Division I: A senior from Barrika, Spain, Rahm won four times this season. He became the second player in Arizona State history, and the first since 1997, to record a top-10 finish in every outing in a season as he notched the feat in all 13 tournaments. Rahm’s nation’s best 69.41 stroke average is seventh best in NCAA history. He posted nine top-five finishes and in 41 rounds shot par or better 35 times, including 22 rounds in the 60s, this season. Not only did he lead the nation in scoring average (69.41), according to Golfstat he also was the nation’s leader in score versus par (-1.78), par-4 scoring (3.93) and birdies (171) and was second in par-5 scoring (4.51). Rahm was previously named recipient of the Ben Hogan Award, becoming the honors’ first two-time recipient.
Division II: A sophomore from Valrico, Fla., Coultas was named a PING First-Team All-American for the second consecutive season and was also tabbed the Sunshine State Conference Golfer of the Year. On the season, he won two tournaments and had six additional top-five showings. He also finished inside the top 14 in all but one of his 11 events and posted a team-best 23 rounds of par or better, including 12 rounds in the 60s on the year. Coultas is ranked No. 2 among all Division II players with an adjusted scoring average of 70.95. He helped lead the Mocs to a national semifinalist finish at this year’s Division II National Championships. Coultas was the winner of Florida Southern’s Hal Smeltzly Award, which is given annually to FSC’s top male and female student-athlete.
Division III: A native of Greensboro, N.C., Lambeth was a PING First-Team All-American, All-Region and All-Conference selection. The junior averaged 72.37 per round this season. He shot par-or-better 14 times in 27 rounds, including nine straight rounds of par-or-better at one point. In 11 tournaments, Lambeth had two wins and five additional top-five finishes. Away from the course, Lambeth had a 4.0 GPA this spring. He was named to the Huntingdon College Dean’s List and was named a Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-American Scholar. Between his sophomore season at Appalachian State and his junior season at Huntingdon, Lambeth spent five years in the United States Marine Corps before being honorably discharged in July 2015. During part of his time in the Marine Corps, he served as part of the President’s security detail. He also continued to play golf, winning the All-Marine Championship in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
NAIA: A Senior from Franklin, Mass., French won three events on the season, including the Sun Conference Championship. Additionally, he recorded three additional top-five finishes and placed in the top 10 on 11 occasions. French closed the season with a 72.17 scoring average. The PING First-Team All-America selection set Johnson & Wales scoring records for 18 (63) and 54 holes (202) at the ACU Spring Invitational. French was named the Sun Conference Player of the Year and the Johnson & Wales Athlete of the Year.
NJCAA: Hailing from Melbourne, Fla., Sweeney became the first NJCAA player to win the Nicklaus Award back-to-back. Additionally, he is one of six college golfers to win multiple Nicklaus Awards. Sweeney posted two victories on the season, including the NJCAA Division I Championship. He carded a bogey-free 7-under 65 in the final round of the NJCAA Championships for a come-from-behind victory. Sweeney also posted three runner-up finishes. He finished outside the top 10 only twice in 10 tournaments.
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) and Justin Thomas (2012) among many others. Award recipients have combined for over 200 victories worldwide and claimed 22 major championships.
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