Arizona State golfer Jon Rahm, winner of the 2015 Ben Hogan Award, accepted the accolades Monday at one PGA Tour event for a stellar season defined by his performance at another tour stop.
Rahm, a junior from Barrika, Spain, parlayed four victories at the college level with a fifth-place finish in February at the Phoenix Open to claim the Hogan Award, given to the top player in college golf.
Rahm’s effort at the Phoenix Open marked the highest finish by an amateur at a PGA Tour event since 2008 and curried favor with voters on the selection committee.
“Obviously, the Phoenix Open was the turning point,” Rahm said. “Playing such great golf made me believe how good of a golfer I was. I didn’t realize ... that I could put myself in position to win a PGA Tour event.
“That gave me a lot of confidence and got me really motivated to work even harder. I just kept that going through the entire spring semester.”
The payoff came Monday, two days after Rahm’s individual victory at the NCAA regional tournament in San Diego.
He edged two fellow NCAA regional winners from Pac-12 schools — Stanford’s Maverick McNealy and Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan — to claim the Hogan Award at “Hogan’s Alley” while securing a berth to compete at the 2016 Colonial.
“To hear my name was a dream come true,” Rahm said. “I’ve always worked hard to be the best and compete with the best of the best. I’m just proud of myself to see how far I’ve come from a small town in Spain to do this now.”
Rahm’s hometown includes only 1,400 residents, but its top amateur golfer ranks No. 1 in both the World Amateur Golf Rankings and the Scratch Players World Golf Rankings. Rahm ranks second in both sets of college golf rankings (Golfstat, Golfweek/Sagarin). He is the only player in the world listed among the top five in all four sets of rankings.
Hogan Award voters are asked to consider a golfer’s performance in all events (college, amateur and professional) over the past 12 months in bestowing the honor. Rahm, who has a season scoring average of 69.63 in college events, edged two notable finalists to claim the honor.
McNealy, a sophomore, leads all golfers with six collegiate victories this season. Pan, the only four-time semifinalist in Hogan Award history, owns the Washington school record with eight career victories.
But the committee selected Rahm, who helped lead the European team to victory at the 2014 Palmer Cup by earning a team-high 3.5 points. Rahm also earned the 2014 Eisenhower Trophy — given to the medalist at the World Team Amateur — breaking Jack Nicklaus’ tournament scoring record by six strokes in the process.
As the Hogan Award recipient, Rahm earned a $25,000 grant for the men’s golf scholarship program at Arizona State. The other finalists triggered grants of $12,500 for their respective schools.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760