McNealy claims Ben Hogan Award on third attempt as finalist

It took three trips to Fort Worth to make it happen, but Stanford golfer Maverick McNealy finally heard his name called Monday as winner of the Ben Hogan Award.

The honor, presented annually to the nation’s top college golfer during tournament week at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, went to McNealy in his senior season as a third-time finalist. Jon Rahm, a PGA Tour rookie competing this week at Colonial, took part in Monday’s presentation after serving as McNealy’s roadblock to the honor in 2015 and 2016.

This time, the hardware went to McNealy, 21, who shares the Stanford school record for career victories (11) with Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers, the 2014 Hogan Award recipient who joins former Arizona State star Rahm in this week’s Colonial field. McNealy was selected over two fellow finalists, Oregon’s Wyndham Clark and Illinois’ Dylan Meyer, in balloting by members of the Hogan Award selection committee.

The honor is based on performances in collegiate and amateur tournaments during the past 12 months.

For McNealy, the award means consecutive victories in Fort Worth since Rahm, a former Arizona State golfer, claimed last year’s Hogan Award. McNealy also won the individual title at the 2016 Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational at Colonial in October. But Monday’s honor, without question, carried more weight.

“It’s very special,” said McNealy, who has been to Colonial five times as a college golfer (two tournaments, three Hogan Award ceremonies). “You think of the quality of the people and the quality of the golfers on that trophy, guys that have contributed so much to the game of golf. It’s really cool.”

McNealy joined the list because of a strong set of credentials. He ranks No. 2 in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), tops among the finalists. He also ranks third in both the Golfstat (70.11 adjusted scoring avg.) and the Golfweek/Sagarin (68.47) college rankings, as well as No. 7 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings.

McNealy, who will receive his bachelor’s degree in management science and engineering on June 18, will not turn professional until at least September to compete as an amateur in the U.S. Open, British Open, Palmer Cup and Walker Cup. He said he may remain an amateur permanently but is undecided. Regardless of his professional status, Monday’s honor includes an invitation to the 2018 Colonial tournament and a lifelong link to Hogan.

“I think the cool thing about the Hogan legacy is how hard and driven and tireless he was in the pursuit of getting better. I think improving and getting better at things is one of the most rewarding things in my life,” McNealy said. “It’s really cool to see what all he did to get as good as he possibly could in golf. I think that’s a lesson for all of us going forward, to try and be the absolute best at whatever you do. That’s real important to me.” 

Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram