Bishop's Stortford Golf Club member Jon Hopkins follows in the footsteps of the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson by winning a prestigious Jack Nicklaus Award
Jon Hopkins has followed in the footsteps of the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson by winning a prestigious Jack Nicklaus Award.
The 21-year-old Bishop's Stortford Golf Club member landed the prize for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) division thanks to a sensational season at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in America.
The Elm Grove resident – who went to Hockerill Anglo-European College, where dad Pete is head of business – was thrilled to bag the accolade after winning three tournaments during the campaign as well as securing other honours, including being named in the PING All-American First Team.
Hopkins is now getting ready to switch to Florida Gulf Coast University as one of the most decorated golfers in the Mississippi school's history.
"It means a lot because it's pretty much the biggest prize you can win at the junior college level in terms of pure golf," said Hopkins. "He's [Nicklaus] such a big name, such a prestigious prize.
"I want to win it at the Division I level, but at the junior college level it's a very competitive award because it's (NJCAA) Division I and II."
Hopkins and his fellow award winners would normally have competed in a shootout for a spot in a PGA Tour event. But, due to the coronavirus pandemic, they got to chat to Nicklaus, who won 18 major championships, on Zoom instead.
"He got to ask us one question and we got to ask him one," said Hopkins.
"To be honest, he really shaped the game. He and his era really changed the game for everyone.
"He was saying in his first year he didn't expect to win more than $30,000 and ended up winning $110,000. I think that really changed everybody's thoughts on newcomers and rookies."
Not only did Hopkins star on the golf course, he also excelled in the classroom. He was named the CoSIDA All-America Team Member of the Year after completing his business degree with a 3.95 grade point average and he picked up the GCCA All-American Scholar award.
"I'm just elated for Jon," said Gulf Coast coach Tommy Snell. "The Nicklaus Award is a great award for him.
"He's a very independent young man who achieved everything by doing things his way. I just gave him the platform to do it.
"All his team-mates are very proud of him, his school is very proud of him and I'm very proud of him. He's a wonderful young man and a wonderful player."
Jon and brother Max, 17, a former Hockerill student taking A-levels at Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth, are this week playing in the 72-hole Tillman Trophy at Foxhills in Surrey. Jon went round in 73, one over par, in Tuesday's first round while Max carded a 77.
More by this authorMichael Vaughton
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