It took two trips to Fort Worth before UCLA golfer Patrick Cantlay departed in possession of the Ben Hogan Award, given to the nation’s top college golfer.
But the wait seemed worth it tonight to Cantlay, a sophomore who received the 2012 Hogan Award in a live ceremony as part of tournament week activities at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Cantlay, the low amateur at the 2012 Masters and runner-up at the 2011 U.S. Amateur, edged two freshmen _ Texas’ Joradan Spieth and Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers _ in voting by members of the Hogan Award selection committee.
A Hogan Award finalist last year, Cantlay became the first sophomore to win the award. He is the youngest winner since 2008, when Rickie Fowler claimed the honor as a freshman at Oklahoma State.
“This is great, especially after coming up short last year,” said Cantlay, who helped lead the Bruins to the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships next week at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. “There’s three really good amateurs here and I feel fortunate that I’m the one they picked. It’s an honor to be here with them.”
Cantlay, who finished 19th at last week’s NCAA regional tournament, is the top-ranked golfer in both the World Amateur Golf Rankings and the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings. He earned low amateur honors at the 2011 U.S. Open, were he finished 21st.
Members of the Hogan Award selection committee consider candidates’ performances over the past 12 months in both college and amateur events. Cantlay, an All-Pac-12 player, has shined at high-profile amateur events and major championships in addition to his two runner-up finishes in college tournaments this season.
“I feel comfortable on tough golf course with fast greens,” Cantlay said. “That’s a premium at the majors. So when I get out on hard golf courses, I think it suits my game. I feel good when par is a good score on every hole.”
Cantlay also felt good about joining a list of past honorees that includes 11 players in this year’s Colonial field: Fowler (2008), Hunter Mahan (2003 co-recipient), Ricky Barnes (2003 co-recipient), D.J. Trahan (2002), Bill Haas (2004), Ryan Moore (2005), Matt Every (2006), Chris Kirk (2007), Kyle Stanley (2009), Mark Wilson (1996) and Peter Uihlein (2011).
“It’s very special, with all the history and all the great names that have won the award,” Cantlay said. “And it’s nice to be linked to all the great accomplishments that Mr. Hogan had in his time. That’s a real honor for me.”
Cantlay said he plans to compete as an amateur at both the 2012 U.S. Open and 2012 British Open later this summer.
Spieth, a Dallas native, earned 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year honors and won three college tournaments in his freshman season at Texas. Rodgers, the 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, earned all-conference honors while winning two college events at Stanford.
_ Jimmy Burch