Fassi Wins Annika Award a 2nd Time; Wolff Is Haskins Winner
June 4, 2019
Maria Fassi, who won the individual medal at the NCAA Championships two weeks ago in her last tournament as a college senior at the University of Arkansas, added one more title to her resume on Tuesday when she was named the recipient of the Annika Award for the 2018-19 season.
This was the second time that Fassi has claimed the award, which is named after Hall of Fame golfer Annika Sorenstam and is given annually to the player of the year in Division I women's golf. Fassi won it for the first time last year.
The announcement was made on The Golf Channel. It was also announced Tuesday night that Oklahoma State sophomore Matthew Wolff was the winner of the Fred Haskins Award as the top player in men's DI college golf. Like Fassi, Wolff capped off his season with an NCAA individual championship.
Fassi introduced herself to golf fans in Minnesota in the fall of 2017 when she won the individual crown at the Annika Intercollegiate, which was played at Olympic Hills CC that year, under the sponsorship of 3M. It was one of six tournaments she won as a junior. She was back in the Twin Cities last fall to defend her Annika Interrcollegiate title at The Royal Golf Club (designed by Sorenstam and Arnold Palmer) in Lake Elmo. That is now the permanent site for the AI.
Although the announcement of the winner is made on The Golf Channel in June, the official presentation of the Annika Award is made each year during a banquet at the Annika Intercollegiate. Mainly for that reason, the tournament draws the best field in women's college golf. Last fall, as an example, 10 of the top 12 teams in the country competed at The Royal GC.
Fassi came up short in her title defense at the Annika tournament in 2018, tying for 23rd. But she closed out her senior season with a flourish, winning the individual competition at both the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championships and the NCAA.
In addition to that, Fassi impressed a large national audience with her performance in early April at the inaugural Augusta Women's Invitational, where she finished second to 2018 NCAA champ Jennifer Kupcho of Duke. Kupcho, who was also a senior, and Florida State sophomore (and now junior-to-be) Frida Kinholt were the other finalists for the Annika Award.
Having turned professional right after the NCAA, Fassi played in her first event as a pro last week at the U.S. Women's Open at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.), where she tied for 12th. (For her efforts, she earned $103,065.)
The strength of the Annika Intercollegiate field was reflected in the final standings at the Open. Four other players who were at the AI last fall also made the cut at the Open. Gina Kim, who is still an amateur and will be a junior at Duke this fall, matched Fassi's finish by tying for 12th. UCLA senior-to-be Patty Tavantanakit, who won the 2018 Annika Intercollegiate, tied for 34th at the Open.
Stanford's Andrea Lee tied for 60th, and Jewon Jeon of Alabama and Jennifer Chang of USC were among those who tied for 62nd in Charleston.
Oklahoma State dominated the stroke-play portion of the NCAA this year, finished 31 strokes ahead of second-place Vanderbilt. Wolff led the way, winning medalist honors by six strokes. It was his sixth individual title of the season.
In the semifinals of the match-play portion of the NCAA, Oklahoma State lost 3-2 to Texas, a team the Cowboys had beaten by 44 shots in stroke play. Cole Hammer was the star of that match, making six birdies in the first eight holes on his way to a 4&3 victory over Wolff. Texas lost, in turn, to Stanford in the match-play final. Oklahoma State had beaten Stanford by 53 shots in stroke play -- further evidence that the NCAA's match-play format might not be the best way to determine a nantional champion.
Wolff's Oklahoma State teammate Viktor Hovland, who was a junior, and Steven Fisk, who just graduated from Georgia Southern, were the other Haskins finalists. They, like Wolff, are expected to turn pro this summer.