Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy went toe-to-toe for a third time this year as the stars went to the polls to vote for the PGA Tour Player of the Year in the coming weeks.
The pair scrapped it out on the final day of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, with Koepka coming out on top, before McIlroy got his revenge at the Tour Championship.
Now we’re into awards season and the first has been handed out already, with Koepka pipping McIlroy to the PGA of America’s Player of the Year, an award based on a points system.
But the result was reversed for the PGA Tour Player of the Year, as voted for by their peers.
The way McIlroy found out he’d won player of the year was very cool.
— NCG (@NCG_com) September 11, 2019
But was it the right decision?
‘Koepka is the rightful PGA Tour Player of the Year’
There is nothing quite like the pressure of a major. Unfortunately I don’t know that from personal experience, but results speak for themselves, writes Alex Perry.
Koepka defended his PGA Championship title in May and had legitimate shots at winning the other three – finishing tied 2nd, 2nd and tied 4th.
He also won the CJ Cup against one of the strongest PGA Tour fields of the season and of course that maiden World Golf Championship title.
McIlroy has had a phenomenal season and his record in regular PGA Tour events this year speaks for itself. But it’s the big ones that count and when you look back at what the players have won this year, one major, one WGC and regular PGA Tour wins far outweighs three regular PGA Tour wins – even if one was the Players.
We’ve all had it drilled into us that the majors are the only ones that matter – and there’s a reason for that.
In the future, when we look back at the PGA Tour season, we’ll be discussing those who won the majors, not the players that had a couple of wins and a handful of top 10s.
If McIlroy had had Koepka’s season and Koepka had had McIlroy’s season, we’d all be saying McIlroy was comfortably the PGA Tour Player of the Year. That’s my argument and I’m sticking to it.
‘McIlroy’s stats speak for themselves’
Much of what McIlroy has done this season we have only seen done before by a certain Tiger Woods, which tells you everything you need to know about his season, writes Joe Hughes.
While Koepka took the only-going-to-try-in-the-big-ones approach, McIlroy produced consistent results week in week out – and the stats back him up.
In 74 per cent of his appearances, McIlroy finished inside the top 10 and he averaged 2.55 in strokes gained per round this season. Only Woods, on three occasions, has bettered this.
He’s also won more money than anyone ever in a single PGA Tour season.
While Koepka’s PGA Championship defence was impressive, if he is simply just focusing his game on the majors, we can’t be that surprised when he plays well. McIlroy meanwhile has collected the the two biggest titles away from the majors, including the strongest field in golf at the Players.
It’s the PGA Tour Player of the Year award, not the player who played best at the majors award.