That's the question posed by Ryan Herrington at Golf World, and while I'm loathe to even argue the merits of an award that is essentially inconsequential, I think it's a worthy post to consider.
And not because Rahm is undeserving as he's an incredible young player who was deserving of a PGA Tour ROY but was not eligible. Nor should we necessarily be rewarding tour provincialism as a pre-requisite for consideration, but as Herrington points out, Dylan Fritteli was a genuine European Tour player with 28 starts to Rahm's 12. Both won one event. The European Tour's press release said Rahm clinched the award Sunday based on money winnings, but why this week's season-ending championship is not included, is unclear.
Yes, Rahm played in 12 officials European Tour events in 2017, claiming one win at the Irish Open and four top-10s in 12 starts while earning €2.8 million to put him fourth in the Race to Dubai entering this week’s season finale. However, of the 12 events, eight were either major championship or WGC tournaments that also counted toward his PGA Tour numbers. Is playing only four regular-season events native to the European Tour enough to be deserving of the honor?
At first glance, the answer feels like a definite maybe.
In the past, the Henry Cotton Award was said to come from a committee of European Tour, R&A and Association of Golf Writers and if they are still voting on it, they certainly rewarded a nice year by Rahm. But given all that's going on with efforts to give the European Tour a boost, the lack of reward for the tour's most devoted (and maybe best rookie) seems like an idea worth revisiting.