Memorial Tournament Round Four notebook: Nicklaus Award winners honored

 

Memorial Coverage Presented by The TriState PGA.

Dublin, OH— Every Memorial Tournament Sunday morning, a player from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA and NJCAA are recognized with Jack Nicklaus Award.

“It’s neat to have these young men every year,” Nicklaus said. “You’re seeing the stars of the future and that will be at Muirfield Village, probably quicker than we think. Congratulations to all of them and we wish you continued luck. I feel very honored to have my name on an award for the best college player in each of these divisions.”

This year’s winners were Norman Xiong (NCAA D-I), John VanDerLaan (NCAA D-II), Josh Gibson (NCAA D-III), SM Lee (NAIA) and Callum Bruce (NJCAA).

“It definitely motivates me, but no pressure on me.” said Xiong. “I think my job as a golfer it to stay in the moment and take it one step at a time, as best I can.”

Xiong earlier announced his plans to turn pro but will head to Memphis, TN Monday for U.S. Open sectional qualifying, which made Nicklaus quip that it would have been easier to stay in Columbus to qualify.

“It kind of starts from scratch, the junior career has passed, I can only take from it what I’ve learned and build from there,”said Xiong. “I guess my mindset is starting fresh, starting from zero and working my way up.”

Saturday, the fivesome went to Scioto Country Club and played the Barbasol Shootout for an exemption into the Barbasol Championship. The event was won by VanDerLaan with a round of 3-under par 67. VanDerLaan is the first NCAA Division II winner for that competition.

VanDerLaan attributed his success to overcoming not being as coveted by Division I schools and instead going to a program with a winning background.

“I could learn how to win and I think Florida Southern provided me with a great opportunity, I had a great four years there.” he said. “We had a national championship last year. I had a lot of success as an individual and that’s what’s going to help me most going forward.”

Gibson discussed his favorite shot of the season which came at a conference tournament playing a course which had opened just two days prior due to snow.

“On the last hole there were a lot of people around. I missed the green short and I asked my playing competitor to pull the pin,” said Gibson. “I chipped in and that was pretty fun.”

Lee meanwhile was the seventh player to win two Nicklaus Awards, but as the sophomore has been humbled by playing collegiate golf.

“I played a lot of junior golf, I had a decent career.” Lee said. “I thought it was going to be similar, but playing college golf opened my eyes to so many other good players like me. I thought I was a decent player, but i’m just a regular player out there. There’s so many good players, I have to be maybe more humble for the game and I definitely learned a lot from them.”

Bruce was asked about identifying his favorite golfer and did not commit to an answer, rather a philosophy.

“You look at them, and see things they do, and take from each golfer what you can replicate to do in yourself or adjust to fit in your game,” he said.

Cauley seriously injured after missing Memorial Tournament cut

Saturday evening, Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard broke the news that Bud Cauley is being treated for five broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a fractured lower left leg.

Cauley was a passenger in a car following a missed cut which featured rounds of 77-76. Already he has withdrawn from Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying event in Memphis.

Justin Thomas offer a tweet showing support.

Thomas opened up about Cauley and provided an update on his condition.

“It calmed me a lot of after seeing him. I couldn’t hit a shot, couldn’t play a hole without thinking about him, and my buddy, Whis, who was there as well in the car yesterday,” he said. “I mean I’m staying with James Whis, this week. So both of those guys, it’s just, it sucks when your best friend’s in a serious car accident and there’s nothing you can do and nothing he can do. So but he’s doing a lot better. I think he’s in surgery right now, surgery got bumped back today. I talked to Kolby briefly, our trainer, and said he was in good spirits this morning. He was laughing, talking, but it hurt him to do both, so we tried not to ask him too many questions or make too many jokes.”

While describing the aftermath, Thomas did admit that it was hard to compete on the course.

“No offense to anything with the tournament, but I didn’t care to be here yesterday. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and thinking about him and I just really wanted to get done and go to the hospital,” said Thomas. “So I truly have no idea how I shot 4-under par, but maybe my mind being off golf was a good thing.”

Hello Niemann

Coming into Sunday play, Joaquin Niemann needed a solo seventh-place finish to earn a spot on the PGA TOUR, and he was able to accomplish a PGA TOUR Special Temporary Membership.

Niemann shot a one-over par 73 but did enough to be smiling at the end of the tournament.

“I think that I, before I was thinking about winning after how I played the first few days, but, yeah, nothing on the last day,” he said. “Still pretty good, just keep working and try to be in the same position that I was on Sunday and see if I can make it all the way.”

Byeong Hun An played with him in the final round and came away quite impressed.

“The way he putts is just amazing,” said An. “He has some great feels and he hits it pretty far off the tee as well. He’s a complete player. He’s good, overall he’s pretty good.

Jack Nicklaus remarked on Niemann’s success through three rounds of the tournament during the Nicklaus Awards ceremony and it was clear a respect had formed.

“Joaquin Niemann this week, is a bit of a surprise to me,” Nicklaus commented. “Does he look as good as he plays, probably does not, but that doesn’t make any difference. It’s how you get the ball in the hole, and how you know how to get the ball in the hole. As a 19-year-old he’ll continue to improve his golf game, and continue to improve his swing.”

He said it

“I think it’s a great hole until the USGA gets a hold of it.” – Phil Mickelson on if the seventh hole at Shinnecock is a good hole

“This week has been incredible. I hadn’t played here in a few years and it’s one of my favorite stops on TOUR. The people here are supportive, they’re into it, great sports town, but they’re so respectful. We don’t get some of the things that are said, well, to my group any ways, week-in and week-out here. So that part’s been incredible and it’s fun to be a part of.” – Tiger Woods

Chris Pohl also contributed to this article

Author: Zac Weiss