JUNE 11, 2012
Youth Not Wasted On The Young
It can be said about the recently concluded 2011-12 college year that youth
was served, with four of the top players
fresh out of high school. It is very rare that
a freshman becomes an impact player in
the college game, much less four of them.
It used to be said about freshman that
they should be seen and not heard. But in
this case, the golf clubs of Jordan Spieth,
Justin Thomas, Patrick Rodgers and
Julien Brun refused to be quiet; they
spoke loudly all year long. And as a result,
all four were named NCAA first-team
The best of the frosh foursome, in
my estimation, is Alabama’s Thomas.
He doesn’t just get my Freshman of the
Year award; he gets my Player of the Year
award. A native of Goshen, Ky., and the
son of a PGA golf professional, Thomas
won the first college tournament he ever
played, the Carpet Capital Collegiate in
September, 2011. He closed the tournament with a 7-under-par 65 to win by four
shots and served notice that he clearly
could play at the next level.
He would go on to post three more college wins, including the SEC Conference
Championship and the NCAA Regional
Championship, and he would add the
prestigious Jones Cup title to his growing
résumé as well. He was named the SEC
Player of the Year, and he led the very
talented Alabama Crimson Tide team in
scoring average, at 70.39.
In relatively short order, he climbed the
ladder of the World Amateur Golf Ranking
and now finds himself perched at No. 13.
He recently was named 2012 recipient of
the Nicklaus Award as NCAA Division I
Player of the Year, and he also won the
Phil Mickelson award, given to the nation’s
most outstanding freshman. Some would
call that a nice career; Thomas calls it
This despite not being ranked among the
top- 10 college golfers for the academic
year, and not being named a first-team
All-American. Go figure.
Most expect Spieth to turn pro sometime this summer. Don’t look for Thomas
to be one of those “one-and-done” guys;
he’ll be in school next fall, playing golf and
pulling for the Crimson Tide to dominate
on the gridiron as it has in recent years. By
all accounts, he loves Alabama, adores his
teammates, and has a great deal of respect
for his college coach, Jay Seawell.
A short-term goal is to make the Walker Cup team, which also likely will include
Rodgers in its effort to bring the Cup back
to America in 2013 at the National Golf
Links. To that end, he’ll play the traditional
summer amateur schedule, as well as
the Palmer Cup at Ireland’s Royal County
Down in June.