Despite getting smoked by Brooks Koepka in the 2019 majors, the PGA Tour’s player vote for Player Of The Year went to Rory McIlroy.
It’s the first time since 1991 that the players differed from the PGA of America’s POY, which is based on a points system. Brooks Koepka won that award by six points over McIlroy.
As I wrote for Golfweek, without knowing how many players voted or how close it was, the award lacks credibility compared to other sports leagues or even other POY awards in golf. It’s too bad, too, as McIlroy had a super year and the case for him to be right there with Koepka is a strong one—until you use the majors as a tiebreaker.
Speaking of majors, you know, the four events on the calendar not owned by the PGA Tour and which always supersede all tour events in magnitude, 2013 was the last time a player won the award without winning a major. Tiger Woods posted five victories that year and two top-6’s in majors.
McIlroy’s best finish in the 2019 majors? A T8 at the PGA. He was 21 strokes worse than Koepka in the three majors he did make the cut in, though he never really contended at any point in the Grand Slam events.
Joel Beall at GolfDigest.com had similar issues with the Tour’s lack of transparency and even the sense that a media conference call ended as soon as the questions about process started.
Or, apparently, privately release them either. Given the election's concealment, the Associated Press' Doug Ferguson asked McIlroy during Wednesday's media conference call if he knew how close the race had finished. "I inquired," McIlroy said, "and they are keeping tight-lipped on that." The call, just seven questions deep, was ended.
Golf.com’s Jessica Marksbury rounded up the Twitter reaction to the news and naturally, there was surprise and some outrage.
And finally, there was the scene of Commissioner Monahan showing up at the Bear’s Club with McIlroy’s trophies, social media helpers, a satellite truck and heaven knows what else for a surprise photo-op with the awards’ namesake, Jack Nicklaus. There is even a photo with McIlroy and the Commish hoisting the FedExCup, cup.
Would Brooks Koepka and his landmark major season—18 strokes better than the next player—have gotten the same attention had players voted for him event without “landmark victories” in the Players and Tour Championship? The overall effort seems desperate to validate a high-priced sponsorship. Too bad that was the only transparent thing about this award.