DUBLIN, Ohio -- As though the younger set wasn't already overrunning the game in the professional ranks, a freshman has won the prestigious Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's top collegian, it was announced Sunday at the Memorial Tournament.
UCLA's Patrick Cantlay set a school record for lowest scoring average and helped lead his team into the match-play portion of the NCAA finals last week.
"It was a lot of fun, just going out and knowing I could compete, as a freshman," Cantlay said.
He did a lot more than just compete. Cantlay had four victories in his first college season and turned plenty of heads, becoming only the second player to take the Pac-10 honors as top player and best freshman, joining former USC star and Nicklaus Award winner Jamie Lovemark.
Cantlay joins an incredible array of past Nicklaus Award winners, including Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink, Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan and Justin Leonard, among other future PGA Tour players.
"You've got some pretty good players out of college who have been here for this award," Nicklaus said. "I'm honored to have my name on it."
Abilene Christian's Alex Carpenter, Chris Morris of Centre, Oscar Stark of Oklahoma Christian and Brand Garon of Meridian Community College were the winners in the other college divisions. Carpenter won the Southern Amateur last year.
Cantlay is the second UCLA player to win the award in the past three years, joining Kevin Chappell, the 2008 Nicklaus winner who is already playing on the PGA Tour and is in the Memorial field this week. Cantlay earlier won the Phil Mickelson Award as the nation's top freshman player.