College Women

ANNIKA Award Watch List: March 24, 2016

UCLA's Bronte Law being hugged by coaches and teammates.
UCLA's Bronte Law being hugged by coaches and teammates. ( Tracy Wilcox )

Thursday, March 24, 2016

We took a week off from the ANNIKA Award Watch List because none of the top 5 were in action last week. What about this week? Almost all took part in an event, so the rankings are back!

The ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M honors the player of the year in college women's golf, as selected by a group of college golfers, coaches and members of the golf media.

Kevin Casey breaks down his top contenders in the sixth spring installment of the 2015-16 season:

• • •

1. Bronte Law (Last week: 2)

Year: Junior

School: UCLA

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 1

Results: WIN, Stanford Intercollegiate hosted by Condoleezza Rice; 2, Bruin Wave Invitational; T-4, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; T-4, Nanea Pac-12 Preview; T-21, Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate; T-25, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; 3-1 in match play at SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms

The buzz: For the first time all year, Leona Maguire is not No. 1 on this list. (GASP!) OK, it's not that dramatic, but a change nonetheless. Law had been sitting at No. 2 for a while and really gained in our last installment because of Maguire's unspectacular T-17 to start the spring. Law was right on the precipice and just needed a little push to get to the top. And that's exactly what happened. Law competed at the SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms, a match-play event, this week. She had a solid showing, going 3-1 in her matches (she was technically 2 up through 15 against Stanford's Mariah Stackhouse but was given the match victory at that point as UCLA had already clinched the team win in this third-place match). Match play is not as easy to gauge, though, so she still needed Maguire to not be quite her usual self at the LSU Tiger Golf Classic. That proved to be the case, with Maguire mustering a T-14 in Baton Rouge, La. For the second consecutive event, Maguire failed to post a top 10. She didn't finish outside the top 10 all fall. With that slight slip, a game Law moves into the No. 1 spot.

2. Leona Maguire (Last week: 1)

Year: Sophomore

School: Duke

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 3

Results: WIN, Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational; T-4, The Landfall Tradition; T-8, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; T-9, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; T-14, LSU Tiger Golf Classic; T-17, Darius Rucker Intercollegiate

The buzz: As described above, Maguire's slip (compared to the incredibly high standard she has previously set) to start the spring drops her down to No. 2. While this backwards step isn't ideal, two consecutive top-20s probably shouldn't be picked apart too hard. As easy as Maguire has made it look, top 10s, top 5s and wins are certainly no gimmes, even for players on the Watch List. Let's not forget that. So yeah, not an ideal start, but there's nothing wrong with the sophomore, and if she wins her next event and moves back to the top of the rankings, it would be no surprise.

3. Hannah Kim (Last week: 3)

Year: Sophomore

School: Northwestern

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 2

Results: WIN, Hurricane Invitational; T-3, Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational; T-4, Stanford Intercollegiate; T-6, Windy City Collegiate Classic; T-13, Lady Puerto Rico Classic; T-17, Mason Rudolph Championship

The buzz: Nothing has changed here, as Kim was off the last two weeks. We won't see her play again until the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic (a combo stroke-play, match-play event) in the first week in April.

4. Lauren Kim (Last week: 4)

Year: Senior

School: Stanford

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 6

Results: T-4, Peg Barnard Invitational; T-4, Stanford Intercollegiate hosted by Condoleezza Rice; 6, Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate; 7, Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational; T-18, Bruin Wave Invitational; T-19, ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M; 3-1 in match play at SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms

The buzz: Like Law, Kim posted a 3-1 record at the SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms. Again, match play becomes a problem for rankings, so it's tough to read too much into that. Good performance, so no reason to drop Kim from this spot.

5a. Monica Vaughn (Last week: N/A)

Year: Junior

School: Arizona State

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 4

Results: WIN, Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge; T-2, Golfweek Conference Challenge; 3, Arizona Wildcat Invitational; T-8, Pac-12 Preview; T-9, Bruin Wave Invitational; T-9, Windy City Classic; T-40, Stanford Intercollegiate; 2-1-1 in match play at SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms

The buzz: Last month, Vaughn really caught onto the ANNIKA top-5 radar with an impressive three-shot win at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge. And her play since has allowed her to rise up all the way onto the list. Vaughn's spring start has been something to behold. After the opening win, the junior posted two more top-10s (including a solo third) and she put on a solid 2-1-1 performance at the SDSU match-play event. Of course, we're not just measuring the spring on this watch list, but Vaughn's three top 10s in the fall means her full resume is certainly worthy of her being on this list.

5b. Emma Henrikson (Last week: N/A)

Year: Senior

School: San Diego State

2015-16 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: 5

Results: WIN, Golfweek Conference Challenge; WIN, Westbrook Spring Invitational; 3, Bruin Wave Invitational; T-3, Branch/McGuire Invitational; T-10, Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown; T-12, Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational; 2-1-1 in match play at SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms

The buzz: She's been noted here before as a threat to enter the top 5, and now she's done it! Frankly, her results the last two weeks (she went 2-1-1 in the SDSU match play event) didn't really put her here. Gabby Barker's second consecutive non-top 10 (T-13 at Briar's Creek Invitational) moved the Texas Tech sophomore just off this list. But that doesn't mean Henrikson isn't deserving of a spot in the top 5 (well, top 6). Two wins and two third-place finishes speak for themselves.

• • •

Who trended up and who trended down these past two weeks?

UP

Frida Gustafsson Spang

You can't do much better than what Spang produced in the last two weeks. Two tournaments. Two wins. That's three victories for the spring already for the senior. She's still just No. 37 in the rankings (her strength of schedule garners a lowly 424 ranking) but she's gaining ground.

Celine Boutier

Wow. Even for a player as capable as Boutier, that was a stunning performance. Boutier pulled off an insane 14-shot win at the LSU Tiger Golf Classic. This was after a T28-T45 start to the spring. Quite a statement after a mini-slump in recent times. For that Baton Rouge effort, Boutier jumped from around 50th to No. 9 in the Golfweek rankings. When Maguire and Boutier have it going, Duke has easily the best 1-2 combo in the nation.

DOWN

Yupaporn Kawinpakorn

She went 2-2 at SDSU, but Kawinpakorn's T-25 at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational was easily her worst showing of the 2015-16 season. Before that, she had finished in the top 10 in every 2015-16 event. She'll be looking to return to the top-10 trend immediately.

Gabby Barker

This is pretty much by default because she dropped from the ANNIKA top 5. Nothing too worrisome here. Top-15s in her last two events hasn't kept up with her previous play, but it's still pretty solid.

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