Jon Rahm Rodriguez, Arizona State
With a victory at the Bill Cullum Invitational last month, the native of Spain became the first Sun Devil freshman to win an individual title since 2008 and just the second since Alejandro Canizares won the NCAA title in 2003.
It capped a fall season in which Rahm Rodriguez broke 70 in six of his 15 rounds, including posting a 64 (one of the 10 lowest scores for ASU in the last 20 seasons) and two 65s. Aside from his Cullum victory, he finished second at the Pac-12 Preview at Pumpkin Ridge GC. His 58 birdies ranks him tied for eighth in the country and his four eagles put him T-6.
Honorable mention: David Boote, Stanford
A pair of top-10 finishes (T-7 at Olympia Fields; T-3 at the Pac-12 Preview) give the Welshman street cred in college golf circles and the Cardinal another player capable of shouldering the load along with All-American candidate Patrick Rodgers.
Kyung Kim, USC
The arrival of the Chandler, Ariz., resident in Los Angeles came with a fair amount of fanfare, after Kim earned spots in the last two U.S. Women's Opens and claimed the title at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. And the 18-year-old delivered when she posted the low individual score at the Stanford Intercollegiate. Her 71.44 average ranks fifth among all players in Division I and her 4.56 average on par-5 holes leads the country. Oh, and her 29.44 average putts per round ranks ninth in the nation. Not bad for playing in just three events this fall.
Honorable mention: Lindsey Weaver, Notre Dame
Four starts and no finish worse than T-6 with two runner-up showings makes the Golden Domer a popular pick. A victory seems like only a formality this spring.