Maria Hernandez Wins 2009 Honda Sports Award
June 4, 2009
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Maria Hernandez, a senior at Purdue University, has been chosen as the nation's top collegiate female athlete in golf. The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 33rd year.
Hernandez' victory will earn her the 2009 Honda Sports Award, given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, along with automatic nomination for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. She was voted over three other nominees, Carlota Ciganda, a freshman at Arizona State University, as well as two golfers from the University of Southern California, freshman Jennifer Song and sophomore Lizette Salas. The candidates were selected based on their finish at the NCAA Championships and rankings.
Noted Hernandez: "This is an unexpected honor. I felt like I had a good year, and then to win the NCAA Championship was amazing. I don't think it has all sunk in yet. It is a privilege to represent my team, my coaches and Purdue University by being named the Honda Sports Award winner for golf. I love the game and it is something that I work very hard on every day to improve. I put the time in to get better, not to win awards, but I do appreciate being recognized."
A native of Pamplona, Spain, the 5' 5" Hernandez is the most decorated golfer in Purdue school history. She birdied two of her final three holes to win this year's NCAA individual title and has helped Purdue to three Big Ten team championships (2006, 2008, 2009). She was named the school's first-ever National Player of the Year and was also the first Boilermaker golfer to make first-team All-American, an honor she has earned three years in a row.
Ranked #7 in the nation, Hernandez won six of 12 tournaments this season, with a low round of 67 and a 72.8 stroke average for the season. She recorded a career low of 66 on three occasions, including in 2008 to earn the best third-round score in Big Ten Championships history. In that tournament Hernandez set a Big Ten record for lowest individual 72-hole score (281). Hernandez set many milestones for the Purdue golf program in her college career. In 2008, she became the first Purdue women's golfer to win the Big Ten Championships individual title and successfully defended that title this season by tying for first with teammate Maude-Aimee Leblanc. She never finished lower than fourth at conference championships in her entire career. In all, she won 14 tournaments as a collegian, one as a freshman, four in her sophomore year, three as a junior and six this season. She is also the only winner of the Big Ten's Mary Fossum Award and was named first team All-Big Ten all four years. She holds the school record for low 54-hole tournament with a 208 (66-73-69) at the 2008 NCAA Central Regional. She is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten and graduated in May with a 3.36 GPA in management. Hernandez is hoping for a future in professional golf and is planning to join the LPGA's Duramed FUTURES Tour this summer.
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