As I did a year ago, I've taped short podcasts with each of the winners of this year's Player of the Mid-Season Awards to hear directly from them about their standout fall seasons and what's next as they try and continue their solid play into the spring schedule.
Without further ado ...
Cheng-Tsung Pan, Washington
The sophomore from Chinese Taipei entered the fall season on a high note after reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur for the second time. Yet his performance in four college starts was even more impressive: a win at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational was followed by a T-2 at the Ping/Golfweek Preview, a T-3 at the Pac-12 Preview and a T-2 at the U.S. Collegiate. He wrapped up the fall with a 70.16 average with seven of his 12 rounds in the 60s.
For good measure, Pan also finished second at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (after shooting a final-round 65), securing a spot in the international final qualifying for the 2013 British Open while narrowing missing out on a invitation to the 2013 Masters.
I spoke with Pan this past weekend to talk about his play. Advanced warning: I had a few technical difficulties with the recording; my apologizes.
CI Podcast/Cheng-Tsung Pan
Honorable mention: Jace Long, Missouri
Five starts, 15 rounds, three wins, five top-10s and a 69.27 average. His 75 birdies leads all of Division I, and he managed to advance to the second stage of PGA Tour school. Tigers fans had mixed emotions when Long finished T-32 last week, grateful that their guy would be back to finish his senior season but knowing he had been
Isabelle Lendl, Florida
Having watched the 21-year-old as a junior sensation—even playing with her in a media day at the U.S. Girls' Junior—I would have had no trouble predicting that one day she'd be among the best college golfers in the country. But given how bumpy her first three years with the Gators has been, that she would have put together the fall season she did in 2012-13—wins at the Dale McNamara and Lady Tar Heel, fifth at the Cougar Classic and 10th at the Betsy Rawls—makes her story all the more compelling.
In my podcast interview, Lendl does a nice job of describing the satisfaction she has felt this semester as the hard work that she's put in to getting back to an elite level appears to have paid off.
CI Podcast/Isabelle Lendl
Honorable mention: SooBin Kim, Washington
Three top-three finishes, including a victory at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, in four starts ensured that the 19-year-old South Korean native by way of British Columbia would not be succumbing to any sophomore slumps. Her solid play helped lift the Huskies to No. 2 in the Golf World/WGCA coaches' poll.