DUBLIN, Ohio – Justin Thomas from Alabama, Nova Southeastern’s Ben Taylor, Noah Ratner from Guilford, Texas Wesleyan’s Nathan Anderson and Jimmy Kozikowski of South Mountain Community College have been named the 2012 Jack Nicklaus Award recipients as the GCAA Collegiate Players of the Year. The Nicklaus Award recognizes the top players at the Division I, II, II, NAIA and NJCAA levels.
Thomas, the Division I Nicklaus Award recipient, was previously honored with the Phil Mickelson Award presented by the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation as the nation’s outstanding freshman and was named a PING First-Team All-America selection. A native of Goshen, Ky., Thomas got off to a quick start in his college career, claiming his first tournament the Carpet Capital Collegiate. He would go on to win three more times – the Puerto Rico Classic, SEC Me’s Golf Championship and NCAA Southeast Regional. Thomas collected five other top 10 finishes and only finished outside of the top 20 twice. Previously Thomas was named SEC Player and Freshman of the Year
A native of Epsom, England, Taylor led Nova Southeastern to its first Division II men’s golf national title. The sophomore won two tournaments – the Otter Invitational and the Florida Blue Sunshine State Conference Championship. Taylor was runner-up four times and claimed four additional top-10 finishes. He placed outside of the top 10 only once this season in 12 events – a tie for 16th. Taylor was previously awarded PING First-Team All-America honors and Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year.
Ratner, a junior from Asheville, N.C., recently concluded one of the greatest seasons in Division III Guilford College’s lengthy and successful golf history. He is Guilford’s first recipient of the prestigious Jack Nicklaus Award. The junior received PING First-Team All-America recognition for the second straight season. Ratner tied the school record with four medalist honors, including his first three tournaments of the season, and recorded a 72.73 season stroke average – the second-lowest figure in school history. In addition to his All-America honor, Ratner earned PING All-South laurels for the second straight season and became the Quakers’ fourth two-time Old Dominion Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year.
Anderson earned the NAIA Nicklaus Award after spending two PING All-America seasons at McClennan CC. A native of Burleson, Texas, he was named PING First-Team All-America in his first foray in NAIA golf. Anderson won the Dallas Baptist Patriot Invitational and had two runner-up finishes, including the NAIA National Championships. He recorded three additional top-10 finishes in 10 events. Anderson set a Texas Wesleyan record for single-season scoring average at 72.08.
Kozikowski won four events in 2012 – the Cactus Thaw, NJCAA Region I Championship, Tiffany and Bosco Invitational and Chandler-Gilbert Invitational. He had three runner-up showings and never finished outside the top 10 in 12 events this season. The sophomore from Mesa, Ariz., led South Mountain CC to the NJCAA Division II national title. Kozikowski was named PING All-America First-Team, first-team Arizona Community College Athletic All-Conference and PING All-West Region. He posted a 71.55 scoring average.
Since 1988, the award for the GCAA Collegiate Players of the Year has been named after Jack Nicklaus, a Big Ten and NCAA Champion at The Ohio State University. Mr. Nicklaus annually recognizes the recipients during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, just outside of Nicklaus’ hometown of Columbus.