NORMAN, OK – The list of potential Jack Nicklaus Award winners for Division II has been reduced to five, and Florida Southern junior John VanDerLaan is among that number as announced Thursday, May 18 by the Golf Coaches Association of America.
Given annually to the national players-of-the-year at each level of collegiate golf, the award is named after Jack Nicklaus, a Big Ten and NCAA Champion at Ohio State University who helped inspire and create the award in 1988. Mr. Nicklaus annually recognizes the recipients during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, just outside of Nicklaus' hometown of Columbus. This year's winner will be announced on June 1.
In addition to receiving the Jack Nicklaus National Player-of-the-Year Award, the five recipients representing all divisions of college golf will compete in the Barbasol Shootout for an exemption into the PGA TOUR's Barbasol Championship, held July 20-23, at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National in Opelika, Alabama. The Barbasol Shootout will be held Saturday, June 3 at the storied Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio - the same club where Jack Nicklaus first learned the game of golf as a young boy.
This year's Sunshine State Conference Men's Golfer-of-the-Year, VanDerLaan is putting together one of the best seasons in team history. After winning the South/Southeast Regional, he'll go into next week's Division II National Championships with a 70.24 stroke average that currently stands as the best ever for a Moccasin golfer. The win at the regional tournament was his second of the season (he lost a playoff after being tied for first at another tournament), and it was also his ninth top-five finish. That ties another school record which was set by John Curley 23 years ago, and only once in 11 tournaments has VanDerLaan not placed in the top-10. He has an individual winning percentage of .960, and has finished third or better in six consecutive tournaments going into the National Finals.
The other four finalists for the Jack Nicklaus Award are junior Chandler Blanchett from the University of West Florida; junior Chris Crisologo from Simon Fraser University (BC); senior Nicolas Herrera from BYU-Hawaii; and senior Richard Mansell from Nova Southeastern University. VanDerLaan and Blanchett could potentially go head-to-head again at the National Finals by the end of next week, while Herrera and Mansell will also be in Kissimmee competing as individual qualifiers.
VanDerLaan's inclusion marks the third year in a row the Moccasins have had one of their golfers make the list of finalists. It's VanDerLaan's second time, with his first coming as a freshman in 2015. John Coultas won the Nicklaus Award last year and had been one of the semifinalists again this year.