Rory McIlroy was named PGA Tour Player of the Year on Wednesday, a surprising result despite his excellent season that ended with him hoisting the FedEx Cup.
Most expected the honor to go to Brooks Koepka, who’s in the midst of a dominant run in majors not seen since Tiger Woods was in his prime.
When Jack Nicklaus carried the award named after himself to present to McIlroy on Wednesday, even McIlroy seemed surprised.
“I’ve already got two of those,” McIlroy said when Nicklaus set the trophy down on the table.
“Well you’ve got three now,” Nicklaus said. “Congratulations.”
“Really?” McIlroy responded in seemingly genuine disbelief before showing off his goosebumps to the golf icon.
No. Not even McIlroy expected McIlroy to beat out Koepka for the honor.
How Koepka and McIlroy stack up
Koepka recorded top-5 finishes in all four majors this season including a victory at the PGA championship and second-place finishes at the Masters and the U.S. Open.
He won three tournaments overall and finished first in the world golf rankings and on the money list.
McIlroy also won three tournaments including the coveted Players Championship and Tour Championship to end the season. His best finish at a major was eighth place at the PGA Championship. He missed the cut at The Open Championship played on his home turf at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush.
He finished second in the world golf rankings and the money list to Koepka.
It was an outstanding season. But it was clearly second to Koepka’s.
Players vote on award
But the Player of the Year award is voted on by players, and they collectively believed McIlroy deserved the honor.
“Brooks has had an incredible year, an incredible three years, really,” McIlroy said of the award. “I think [the player vote] speaks volumes about what PGA Tour players feel [is] important. Players just don’t feel only four weeks are important. We play for more than just what the narrative suggests.”
The Tour doesn’t disclose the results of the votes, only the winner. So we’ll never know by how large a margin McIlroy beat Koepka or who voted for whom.
We just know that McIlroy is taking home his third Player of the Year honor.
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