For the first time since the inception of the World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WAGR), two European golfers will receive the Mark H. McCormack Medals as the No. 1 male and female players in the world.
Jon Rahm-Rodriguez, 20, of Spain, a quarterfinalist in last week’s U.S. Amateur Championship at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club, joins Leona Maguire, also 20, of the Republic of Ireland, as recipients of this prestigious honor. Matthew Fitzpatrick (2013), of England, the 2013 U.S. Amateur champion, is the only previous European recipient.
The McCormack Medal has recognized the No. 1 male player in the WAGR since 2007 and the top female golfer since 2011. Past winners include current world No. 2 professional Lydia Ko, of New Zealand (2011-13); LPGA Tour winner Minjee Lee (2014); PGA Tour winners Danny Lee (2008), of New Zealand, and Nick Taylor (2009), of Canada; PGA European Tour winner Peter Uihlein (2010); and Colt Knost (2007), of Dallas, Texas, who won both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links titles in 2007 and has won twice on the Web.com Tour.
The WAGR system ranks the top amateur golfers in the world on the basis of their average performance in counting events over a rolling cycle of the previous 52 weeks. The McCormack Medal is awarded to the No. 1 players at the culmination of the amateur season, following the U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Amateur and European Amateur championships.
Rahm, a senior at Arizona State University, earns exemptions into the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club and The Open Championship at Royal Troon, provided he maintains his amateur status. Maguire, a junior at Duke University, will receive exemptions into the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif. and the 2016 Ricoh Women's British Open, provided she remains an amateur.
“I am honored by this award and excited about the exemptions it brings,” said Rahm. “I also feel great pride in being the first Spanish golfer to receive this distinction.”
A first-team All-America selection this past season, Rahm not only won four collegiate tournaments, including the NCAA San Diego Regional, but contended in the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open in February at TPC Scottsdale, tying for fifth with a 12-under score of 272 that was highlighted by a third-round 66.
“The USGA extends its most sincere congratulations to Jon for winning the 2015 McCormack Medal,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Rules, Competitions and Equipment Standards. “His stellar play throughout the college and amateur seasons, as well as his performance in professional events, makes him very deserving of this honor. We are excited to watch his blossoming golf career.”
Last fall, Rahm showcased his talent in the World Amateur Team Championship in Japan, breaking a 54-year-old scoring record by Hall of Famer Jack Nicklaus. Rahm posted rounds of 70-64-62-67 for a 72-hole score of 263, shattering Nicklaus’ mark by six strokes. His performance also helped Spain finish third, three strokes behind the winning USA team.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director – Championships at The R&A, added, “Jon has maintained an extremely high level of play throughout the year and is a deserving winner of the Mark H. McCormack Medal. To achieve five victories in elite amateur events in a season is very impressive and to back that up with a top-five finish in a PGA Tour event shows that Jon is capable of playing at the highest levels of the sport. I would like to congratulate him on a wonderful season.”
Rahm, a two-time winner of the Spanish Stroke Play Championship, received the 2015 Ben Hogan Award in May, which honors the top male college amateur golfer in the United States.
Maguire also enjoyed a stellar season in which she received the 2015 Annika Award as the best college player. She posted three victories, including the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and NCAA South Bend Regional.
“To be able to call myself the best female amateur in the world is a nice feeling,” said Maguire, a member of the 2010 and 2012 Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup Teams. “In the last few years a lot of big names have won it and they have gone on to do great things in the game. It caps a fantastic year for me and it is rewarding after all the hard work I have put in and my family as well.”
This summer, Maguire was the top qualifier in the stroke-play portion of the Ladies British Open Amateur at Portstewart Golf Club in Northern Ireland, where she fell in the Round of 16. In June, she posted a 3-0-1 record as a member of the Great Britain and Ireland Team that lost to its European counterparts in the Vagliano Trophy at Malone Golf Club in Northern Ireland. She also nearly won the Ladies European Tour’s ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters at Buckinghamshire Golf Club, falling one stroke short of American Beth Allen.
Cole-Hamilton said, “I would like to congratulate Leona on her performances in what has been a tremendous season. To secure three victories in such a competitive environment as collegiate golf is a great achievement but to go on and come so close to winning a professional event is remarkable. Leona is a hugely talented golfer and an extremely worthy winner of the McCormack Medal.”
Bodenhamer added, “On behalf of the USGA, it gives me great pleasure to extend our congratulations to Leona for winning the McCormack Medal. Her outstanding play throughout the season in NCAA competition, as well in both the amateur and professional ranks, makes her a very deserving recipient. We look forward to following Leona in the future.”
The WAGR, which was established in 2007, encompasses more than 2,300 counting events and more than 6,000 players from 96 countries are currently ranked. The women’s ranking was started four years ago and features 1,370 counting events with more than 2,940 players from 71 countries.