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Mid-season college awards: Top freshmen

By Ryan Herrington

So much for taking a semester to settle into college. These first-year students that claimed this year's top mid-season honors for freshmen have looked like seasoned upperclassmen with the way they've performed on the course.

FRESHMAN OF THE MID-SEASON
MEN
Robby Shelton.jpegRobby Shelton, Alabama
It says something about your potential when you're looked upon as the person that's going to replace a departing All-American who was had been the national player of the year not that long ago. Yet that's how highly Shelton was considered, that with the departure of Justin Thomas to the pro ranks, many thought the 18-year-old rookie from Wilmer, Ala., could step in immediately and fill out some awfully big footprints.

Sure enough Shelton delivered, claiming a share of the individual title in his college debut at Olympia Fields and a T-4 showing at the Jerry Pate in his second start. He finished the fall with a 70.42 average, second best on the top-ranked team in the country.

"He's a golf junkie," says Alabama coach Jay Seawell. "And I knew that from recruiting. [But] he has embraced this team, his teammates, college and college golf. That's why he's been really successful. He's had a good enough game to come right in, but his adjustment to all of that has been why he's been a star this fall."

Oh, and for the record, Thomas only had a 71.4 average through his first semester in Tuscaloosa.

Honorable mention: Lars van Meijel, Memphis
It's hard to imagine a more comfortable transition to college golf than what the Netherlands native has shown: two wins in his first four college starts and no finish worse than T-8, while sporting a 69.85 stroke average.


WOMEN
Lee_Alison_2[2].jpgAlison Lee, UCLA
It's no longer much of a surprise when a first-year player excels from the start of her college career, but the transition for the 18-year-old from Valencia, Calif., seems unusually seamless even coming off an outstanding final summer of junior golf that saw her earn the AJGA's top player honors.

A second-place individual finish at the Mason Rudolph in her first start was followed by victories at the Betsy Rawls and the Stanford Invitational. If not for a four-stroke penalty in the first round of the Pac-12 Preview when she mistakenly left an old wedge in her bag and didn't notice she had 15 clubs until mid-way through the round (she still shot a two-under 71 for the round) she would have closed with a T-3 showing instead of her "miserable" T-8 finish. Even so she closed out the fall season atop the Golfstat Cup rankings and with the best scoring average in the country (69.75).

Honorable mention: Ashlan Ramsey, Clemson
It wasn't just the Milledgeville, Ga., native making her college debut this fall, but the program she was playing for. Yet the Tigers have been able to roar to date—ranking No. 13 in the latest Golf World/WGCA coaches' poll—in no small part to Ramsey's early success: two wins, a runner-up and an eighth-place showing.

Photos: Alabama Sports Information (Shelton); Alicia Um-Holmes/UCLA Women's Golf (Lee)

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