SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Rachel Heck’s magical freshman season finally came to an end Tuesday at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Heck won her match, but top-seeded Stanford still fell in the quarterfinals to Arizona.
However, Heck isn’t leaving Grayhawk empty-handed. She captured the NCAA individual title on Monday, becoming just the ninth freshman to do so, and on Tuesday afternoon she was awarded the Annika Award, which is presented to the female collegiate golfer of the year.
“It is unreal,” Heck said. “I remember in high school the Annika Award Instagram page followed me and I was freaking out. I thought it was the coolest thing in the whole world. Every year I would see the watch list come out and see all of the girls I always looked up to and thought that maybe one day I would crack the watch list. To actually receive the award is unbelievable, I am speechless right now.”
Heck began her college career later than most as Stanford didn’t play its first full-field event until March. But she quickly established herself as one of the top players in the country, winning five times, including Pac-12 and NCAA regional titles, before arriving at Grayhawk as the NCAA Championship favorite.
She didn’t disappoint at nationals, going wire to wire to beat UCLA’s Emma Spitz by a shot and win for a sixth time. Heck is now just the third player to win conference, regional and NCAA titles. Her scoring average of 69.72 is an NCAA record, too.
Heck joins a list of Annika winners that includes Arkansas' Maria Fassi (twice), Duke's Leona Maguire (twice) and UCLA's Alison Lee. The other two finalists this year were Arizona State's Linn Grant and South Carolina's Pauline Roussin-Bouchard.
“My biggest role model in golf is Annika,” Heck added. “She is incredible. What she did with her career in golf alone speaks for itself, but what she has done after that is unbelievable. She has given so much back to the game, she has spent the rest of her life just giving back to the game, growing golf and growing girls golf, so to receive the award from her is so special.”