Alabama Freshman Hogan Semifinalist

When it was announced last spring that Alabama junior Bud Cauley would pass up his senior year on the Crimson Tide golf team to try his hand at professional golf, one of Bama's 2011 freshman stars, Cory Whitsett, was philosophical. "We've got Justin Thomas coming in," Whitsett said.

Bud Cauley has gone on to have a fabulous start to his PGA career. And, as Whitsett predicted, Justin Thomas has been an exceptional addition to the Alabama squad.

"We have talented players," Alabama Coach Jay Seawell said earlier this year when discussing one of the Crimson Tide's victories in a season in which Bama is ranked second in the nation.

That Thomas has been able to be a standout on a team with Whitsett, Bobby Wyatt, and Hunter Hamrick -- all veterans of winning college tournaments -- is testament to his ability.

That talent has been recognized as Thomas has been announced as one of 10 semifinalists for the 2012 Ben Hogan Award, presented by Baird Private Wealth Management, in association with Colonial Country Club, The Friends of Golf (FOG) and the Golf Coaches Association of America.

The most prestigious award in men's college golf, the Hogan is presented annually to the top men's NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA or NJCAA college golfer taking into account all collegiate and amateur competitions during a 12-month period.

Thomas, from from Goshen, Ky., has captured two medalist honors as a true freshman at The Capstone, including winning his first-career tournament, the Carpet Capital Collegiate. He is tied for the team lead with 16 rounds of par or better, including nine rounds in the 60s and a 54-hole low of 204 (-12).

He also captured the 2012 Puerto Rico Classic and has four top-five finishes and six top-10 showings in nine events. Thomas is ranked third in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.

Thomas also won the acclaimed Jones Cup Invitational earlier this year, an individual play tournament featuring most of the nation's top college golfers.

Other semifinalists include Blayne Barber of Auburn, TCU's Julien Brun, UCLA's Patrick Cantlay, Texas' Dylan Frittelli, Clemson's Corbin Mills, Washington's Chen-Tsung Pan, Stanford's Patrick Rodgers, Texas' Jordan Spieth, and Washington's Chris Williams.

Hogan Award finalists will be announced May 10. The three finalists will be invited to Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Hogan Award presentation on the evening of May 21, where the winner will be crowned prior to the start of the PGA Tour's Crowne Plaza Invitational.

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