There are only two events remaining in the PGA Tour regular seasons. $15 million is up for grabs at this week’s BMW Championship in Wilmington Delaware and $18million for the winner of Atlantas season-ending Tour Championship on Aug. 25-28.
Other than the FedEx Cup there is a lot of hardware at stake. Scottie SchefflerAnd Cameron SmithThese are the top candidates for PGA Tour Player Of The Year. Cameron YoungThis is the overwhelming favorite to win Rookie of Year.
Can someone else make a case to be Player of The Year with a win or two in the next two weeks? Patrick CantlayWhat happened last season? Can Young be ousted by another hotshot with a convincing win?
Here are the top contenders for the season-ending awards. There may be a few others that the tour would like to bring back or introduce.
PGA Tour Player Of The Year (Jack Nicklaus Trophy).
The Jack Nicklaus trophy is administered by PGA Tour. It is voted for by players.
Scottie Scheffler: For much of spring, the Texan was the hottest player in the world. After not winning in his first two seasons, he won four times in six starts. This included his first major championship at The Masters in April.
Scheffler has been cooling off since then and missed the FedEx St. Jude Championship cut. He finished second at The Open and 21st in the U.S. Open. He has hit 72% of the greens in regulation, a record for tour players, and has made nearly $13.2 million in PGA Tour history.
Scheffler, who was not sure who voted during a Memphis news conference, didnt know who won the award.
Scheffler stated, That would have been a tremendous honor to be won, but its certainly not something thats going too many of my thoughts, I cant keep track of who. [reporters]Think is the best player. To be completely honest, I dont know who votes on that. I know we vote. Do you have a vote?
Cameron Smith: Smith has won three times this golf season. He also claimed two of the biggest events in professional golf: the Players in February and the 150th Open in St. Andrews July. He also won the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He finished third at the Masters, tied 13th at PGA Championship, and missed the cut at U.S. Open.
Smith is a world-class putter. He ranks seventh in shots won: putting (.618). He is also the leader in birdie average at 4.69 rounds.
It would be foolish to believe that recent reports indicating Smiths departure for the LIV Golf circuit wont have an impact on some players ballots. Five of the five players ESPN anonymously surveyed at last week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship said they would remain impartial, even though they believed Smith was defecting from the Saudi-backed league. Smiths absence from the BMW Championship because he has a lingering injury to his hip might not be helpful.
One player, while stating he would remain neutral said he was still voting in favor of Scheffler, regardless what happens in the two final playoff events.
The player said that Cam was a hot putter and Scottie Schiffler played the most enjoyable golf he had seen in a while. Scheffler wins my vote.
Rory McIlroy: McIlroy was undoubtedly the best majors player this season, but his eight-year-old drought without a major championship win will continue into the 2023 season. He was second at The Masters, eighth in the PGA Championship, tied 5th at The Open and 5th at The U.S. Open. McIlroys cumulative score in all four majors of 29 under was 8 shots better than any other player. Will Zalatoris.
McIlroy is the most consistent player at the majors, winning twice this year, at the CJ Cup @ Summit (October) and the RBC Canadian Open (June), but it wont be enough to win the Jack Nicklaus trophy for the fourth consecutive time.
Tony Finau: Finaus season this year was quite different from Schefflers. Finau struggled tremendously at the beginning, missing cuts in three out of four events between late January and mid-March.
Finau has been hot lately, winning the 3M Open, Rocket Mortgage Classic and the FedEx St. Jude Championship in consecutive starts. Finau would be considered Player of the Year if he wins the BMW Championship, Tour Championship, or both.
PGA Tour Rookies of the Year (Arnold Palmer Awards)
The award is open to players who have not played in seven events in a season prior to becoming PGA Tour members. Scheffler, Zalatoris, and Scheffler were the recent winners.
Cameron Young: The New Yorker should be the overwhelming favorite for Rookie Of The Year. He finished third at The PGA Championship, and solo second at The Open. He is the only player to finish in top three at both of these events for the first time since 1958. Collin MorikawaBoth of these he won in his first race.
Young is the longest hitter off the tee at 318.6 yards. Young ranks second in shots taken off the tee (.982). He has seven top-10s from 23 tour starts, with five runners-up. He has won $6.3million this season, the highest amount of money won by a player in a single season without a win (Zalatoris held that record until last week).
Young was reported to have been linked to the LIV Golf circuit in a London publication last week. However, he seems to be heavily leaning toward staying with PGA Tour.
Davis Riley: The former Alabama star, aged 25, almost won the Valspar Championship in February, but was defeated by Sam BurnsIn a playoff. He has 10 top-25s from 28 tour starts, six of them top-10s. Its a great start for his PGA Tour career, but its not as good as Young this year.
Joohyung Kim: Kim made waves earlier this month with his first win at the Wyndham Champion. The South Korean 20-year-old was the second youngest winner of the tour since World War II. Jordan SpiethHe was 19 when the John Deere classic was won in 2013.
Kim was awarded membership to the PGA Tour after the win and qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs. He finished 13th in Memphis last Wednesday.
Kim stated last week that she still cannot comprehend what had just happened. Its been a crazy month. I had intended to apply for my card in July, so I was ready to go. [the]Korn Ferry Finals, and now, one month later, Im a PGA Tour Winner. Its crazy.
Sahith Theegala: Theegala made a splash in mid-February when he won the WM Phoenix Open with a sponsors exemption. He tied for third. He continued his performance by finishing fifth at the Memorial and runner up at the Travelers Championship. His first victory might have been lost to him due to a double-bogey at the 72nd hole.
Mito Pereira: Pereira could have been Rookie Of The Year if he hadn’t collapsed on the 72nd Hole of the PGA Championship. Pereira led by 1 shot Justin ThomasZalatoris. He would have been the first player from Chile who won a major and the first rookie to win one on the PGA Tour in 11 years. Instead, he drove into a creek on the right side of his fairway. He tied for third with a double-bogey 6.
Pereira was able to tie for seventh at Charles Schwab Challenge. He was tied for 42nd at FedEx St. Jude Championship.
Comeback Player Award
In 2012, the Courage Award was given out sporadically by the PGA Tour. The Comeback Player of the Year Award was replaced by the PGA Tour. Perhaps it is time to reinstate the Comeback player of the year award, given the outstanding candidates this year.
Tiger Woods: Many wondered if Woods could ever walk again after the 15-time major champion was badly injured in a crash outside Los Angeles. Woods returned to competitive golf in April, less than 14 months after nearly losing his right leg.
Woodss performance in three majors this year wont be remembered just for his scores. They were among the worst of his career. He still made the cut at the Masters, the PGA Championship (he withdrew at Southern Hills after 54 holes) and fought through pain in the right leg during two difficult walks in golf.
Woods, 46 years old, had circled the 150th Open in St. Andrews. He didnt play well and missed making the cut but the celebration wouldnt be the same without him.
Jeff Overton: The Indiana native was a rising star in 2010, when his 11th place finish in The Open saw him make the Ryder Cup team. After the 2016 season, he was injured in his back and had to lose his PGA Tour card. He had surgery to repair a herniated disk the next spring. He almost died from a spinal infection.
Overton claimed that he stopped playing golf for two years after he recovered. He took advantage of a sponsors exemption to make his first start in over five years at the 3M Open.
Overton stated that the fight was hard and it was a struggle. But you have to look for the future, and thats why Im here today. You have to start somewhere.
Ryan Brehm: After he was positive for COVID-19, the former Michigan State star was granted one start under minor medical exemption. He was forced to withdraw from the 2021 Zurich Classic in New Orleans.
Brehm was ranked 773rd worldwide. He had to finish second in the Puerto Rico Open in march to keep his PGA Tour card. Or he would be relegated the Korn Ferry Tour. Brehm won his first PGA Tour victory with Chelsey, his wife. He won $666,000, almost three times his career earnings, as well as a two-year exemption.
Caddie of the year
The PGA Tour doesn’t have an award for best looper of a season. But if it’s serious about taking better treatment of everyone in the face LIV Golf threats, maybe it’s time to recognize those on the bags.
Ted Scott Scott helped Bubba WatsonDuring a 15-year partnership, they won two Masters titles and ten PGA Tour events. Scott encouraged Watson to find a new boss when he was suffering from a wrist injury.
Scott retired in November and assumed Scheffler’s bag. Scheffler, with a new partner has been the best player of the world. He won his own green jacketApril. Scott even assisted him in counting his putts at Augusta Nationals 72nd hole.
Scheffler, speaking at the Masters, said that Ted was a great person and a great caddie. I respect him so highly as a person. Hes a great guy to hang out with. Hes a man who believes in God and I love him. I cannot say enough about Ted. Ted embodies almost all the qualities that you want in a person. Hes humble. Hes hard-working. Hes honest. Hes a pleasure to be with.
Billy Foster: Foster has worked as a caddie for pro athletes for more than 30 years. Seve Ballesteros, Thomas Bjorn, Darren ClarkeAnd Lee Westwood. Fosters players won many tournaments, but not the largest.
This all changed at the U.S. Open at Brookline Country Club in Brookline (Massachusetts) in June. Matt FitzpatrickFoster finally received the elusive major. Foster was, not surprisingly, the one who covered up Fitzpatrick’s winning putt.
Well, normally people have monkeys on their backs, but I had a gorilla in my back. Foster spoke to ESPNs Michael Collins. Its hard to imagine me not being excited. Im like Phew. It was a relief. Its been so many years.
Billy Foster has been caddying for men like Seve Westwood and Lee Ballesteros for 40 years… but he just won his 1st major victory. @MattFitz94 did stress him out a smidge 😂, but the gorilla is finally off his back. #GoodGuyFinishedFirst pic.twitter.com/97uIerNwE1
— Michael Collins (@ESPNCaddie) June 20, 2022
Jim Bones” Mackay: Mackay, long regarded as one among the best loopers of the game was fired by NBC Sports in September 2021 to join Justin Thomas. Mackay, who was instrumental in Mackays success. Phil MickelsonJT won five majors in their 25-year partnership and led JT to victory at the PGA Championship Southern Hills. This victory ended his five-year drought of major victories.
Mackay stated that if Mackay ever decided to become a caddie again, then this was the time. My wife can tell you who I said Id leave. [NBC Sports]Justin Thomas was the winner. He seems to have more shots than anyone else on this tour.
Ryan Goble/Joel Stock:Zalatoris had Goble as his caddie throughout his professional career, until two weeks ago when the pair split up halfway through the Wyndham Champion. Goble was there for all the close calls. Stock took over Memphis last week and helped Zalatoris win their first ever championship.
Maybe they can share the trophy. Zalatoris was able to listen to Stocks warning not to hit the ball near a wall on Sundays third playoff round.