May 7, 2008
And then there were three.
The Ben Hogan Award has narrowed its Watch List to three finalists for collegiate golf's highest honor, and University of Alabama senior golfer Michael Thompson is among the three finalists. He is joined by Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler and Southern California's Jamie Lovemark. The list of finalists was announced Wednesday by the Golf Coaches Association of America.
Considered the most prestigious award in men's college golf, The Hogan Award is presented annually to the top men's NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA or junior college golfer, taking into account all golfers from each of those levels and all collegiate and amateur competitions during the last 12 months. The winner will be named at a banquet on May 18 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
Alabama has produced one Hogan Award winner. Marten Olander won it in 1993, his senior season with the Crimson Tide.
Thompson has had a successful and busy last 12 months, advancing to the U.S. Amateur final last August, winning the Southeastern Conference championship and earning SEC Golfer of the Year awards in April, competing in The Masters as an amateur in March, finishing tied for fourth at the 2007 NCAA Championships last June, winning the Greystone Invitational last summer and placing among the top five at the Players Amateur last summer. The Tucson, Arizona native has been selected to the U.S. Palmer Cup team that will compete against Europe next month, the same month he will play as an amateur in the U.S. Open. Thompson, a transfer from Tulane, holds the distinction of having been named all-conference in two different conferences, in both the SEC and the Sun Belt Conference. His 2008 win at the SEC championships was his first collegiate victory in two seasons at Alabama but his fifth collegiate career win as he won four tournaments at Tulane. He has a 70.00 stroke average this season going into the May 15-17 NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio.
Fowler is the Big 12 Player of the Year and has won two tournament championships this season. Fowler is a native of Murrieta, Calif., and won the Sunnehanna Amateur and Players Amateur and advanced to the Western Amateur quarterfinals. He played on the USA's Walker Cup team last year and will join Thompson on the USA's Palmer Cup team this summer.
Lovemark is the defending NCAA champion and was the 2007 Jack Nicklaus Award winner as the collegiate player of the year, winning as a freshman. He is a sophomore from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. He played in the 2007 U.S. Amateur and on both the Walker Cup and Palmer Cup teams.
Thompson and his No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide team are the third overall seed in the tournament and the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Central Regional. The team will play for one of the 10 spots that will advance on to the NCAA finals from that region. Alabama will play in the Central Regional at Ohio State May 15-17. The finals are hosted by Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., May 28-31.