NORMAN, OK – For the second year in a row, John VanDerLaan has made the list of finalists for the Division II Jack Nicklaus National Player-of-the-Year Award. The senior from Southbury, Connecticut is currently the number one player in the Division II Golfstat rankings and will have one more opportunity to strengthen his case for the award at next week's national championships.
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. This year's winner will be announced on May 31, with Mr. Nicklaus presenting the award during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, just outside of Nicklaus' hometown of Columbus.
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 16-22, at the Champions Course at Keene Trace in Lexington, Kentucky. The Barbasol Shootout will be held Saturday, June 2 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.
The other four finalists are senior Chandler Blanchett from the University of West Florida, who won the Jack Nicklaus Award last year; junior Zach James of Southeastern Oklahoma State University; junior Alex Scott of Grand Valley State University; and sophomore Zach Zediker of Delta State University. All five will be playing at the NCAA Division II National Men's Golf Championships in Muscle Shoals, with Scott earning his spot as an individual qualifier.
VanDerLaan leads the country in score versus par and adjusted stroke average at 69.12, which is currently the best in team history. He has won a school record-tying six tournament this season, including last week's NCAA South/Southeast Super Regional, finished second in a playoff in one other tournament, and been in the top-10 of all but one. He has already been named the Sunshine State Conference Men's Golfer-of-the-Year for the second year in a row.
Blanchet, a senior from Gainesville, Florida, has posted five victories this season and has four additional top-10 finishes. He has placed no worse than 17th in 11 events. The Gulf South Conference Men's Golfer-of-the-Year, Blanchet has carded a 69.58 stroke average and is second in the Golfstat individual rankings.
James, a junior from Whitesboro, Texas, was named the Great American Conference Golfer-of-the-Year. He has turned in 20 of 29 rounds at par or better, nine of them in the 60s. James has claimed three tournament victories and finished sixth or better in every event this season, and is ranked No. 13 according to Golfstat
Scott was tabbed the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player-of-the-Year and holds the No. 10 spot in the Golfstat rankings. A junior from Traverse City, Michigan, he has won or shared medalist honors five times this season. In his 11 tournaments, Scott has finished no lower than 16th and has recorded 10 top-10 finishes.
Zediker is another Florida native, coming from Panama City, and has won or shared medalist honors twice this season. The sophomore has posted seven additional top-10 finishes. Zediker, who is third in the Golfstat rankings, has been outside the top-10 only once in 10 tournaments and was All-Gulf South Conference.