Rory McIlroy was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year on Wednesday. He captured the honour over Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Matt Kuchar.
The award, which is voted on by PGA Tour members who played in at least 15 FedExCup events during the 2018-19 season, apparently favoured McIlroy’s consistency over Koepka’s performance on the premier stages.
‘I’m very humbled and very honoured,’ McIlroy said on Wednesday. ‘It validates some of the decisions I made to start the year, and couldn’t be more proud.’
McIlroy racked up a tour-best 14 top 10s in 19 events, highlighted by wins at the Canadian Open, Tour Championship and the tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship. McIlroy also won the Byron Nelson Award for Adjusted Scoring Average (69.057) for the third time in his career, and his 2.551 strokes gained were the best non-Tiger Woods figure in the statistic’s history.
‘On behalf of the PGA Tour, my congratulations to Rory McIlroy on being voted the 2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year by the tour’s membership,’ said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. ‘Rory’s season was a model of consistency punctuated by milestone victories and ultimately the FedExCup in Atlanta.’
Despite McIlroy’s strong output throughout the year, Koepka – who was named the PGA of America Player of the Year weeks ago – was believed to be the award winner by a mile. That included McIlroy. After defeating Koepka at the 30-player Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup, the Ulsterman acknowledged that Koepka was the likely Player of the Year.
‘He’s had a great season. He’s won another Major, he’s won three times. And I know it’s going to sting because he most likely will win the Player of the Year, but he didn’t win the FedEx Cup,’ McIlroy said following his victory in East Lake.
‘So I know it’s going to sting him for a bit, but I just wanted to tell him he’s playing so good. He’s the No 1 player in the world, and he’s had a great season, and he said something similar to me, just happy for me.’
Koepka added his fourth Major victory at the PGA Championship in May, building a seven-shot lead to hold off a surging Dustin Johnson at Bethpage Black. Koepka became the first player to defend both the PGA and the US Open in a career, and joined Woods, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen as the other players to defend two different Majors. The win moved Koepka to No 1 in the world rankings, a spot that he has not relinquished.
Koepka added runner-up finishes at the Masters and US Open, along with a T-4 at the Open Championship, joining Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Jordan Spieth as the only players to finish top four or better at every Major in a calendar year. For his part, McIlroy had two top 10s at the Majors and missed the cut at the Open Championship.
But Brooks’ season was more than the marquee events. Koepka notched wins at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and C.J. Cup, and posted nine top 10s in 2019. Koepka led the tour in official money and was fourth in scoring, and won the inaugural Wyndham Rewards, which acknowledges the tour’s regular-season FedEx Cup points leader. He finished in a tie for third in the season-ending FedEx Cup/Tour Championship.
This is the third time McIlroy has won the tour’s Player of the Year, his first since 2014. McIlroy joined Woods as the only two-time winners of the FedEx Cup.