Peers pick Scheffler over Rahm as player of year

World No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler won two official PGA Tour tournaments in 2023, while Spain’s Jon Rahm won four times, including his second major championship at the Masters in April.

While Scheffler is still a member of the PGA Tour, Rahm became the latest star to jump to the rival LIV Golf League on Dec. 7, accepting a multiyear contract worth more than $300 million.

That might be one of the explanations for why PGA Tour members on Wednesday voted Scheffler as player of the year for 2022-23. He became the first back-to-back winner of the Jack Nicklaus Award since Tiger Woods was player of the year three straight times from 2005 to 2007.

“I’ve never been one to boast about my accomplishments, so sitting in front of a microphone, I’m not going to sit there and tell you how great I am,” Scheffler said. “That’s not really my thing. But at the end of the day, like I said, I’m proud of the year I had. The consistency was something that I’m very proud of.”

Scheffler’s honor was announced Wednesday at the season-opening event, the Sentry at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii. The PGA Tour said Scheffler received 38% of the vote and was selected over four other finalists: U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark, FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy and Rahm.

“I think it was a close race,” Scheffler said. “It could have gone either way. Yeah, like I said, I’m very grateful for the players voting for me, and it’s extremely special to be able to win this award again.”

The tour said golfers who competed in at least 15 official FedEx Cup tournaments were eligible to vote for the award. The voting period was Dec. 1-15.

The previous season, Scheffler received 89% of the vote after capturing four tournaments, including his first major at the Masters.

Despite having only half as many wins as Rahm last season, Scheffler had one of the greatest statistical seasons in PGA Tour history. He won the WM Phoenix Open for the second time Feb. 12, then captured the Players — the so-called “fifth major” — a month later. He had 17 top-10s and 21 top-25s in 23 starts on tour. He didn’t miss a cut.

Scheffler led the tour in strokes gained: total (2.314), off the tee (1.021), approach (1.194) and tee to green (2.615). He also finished first in scoring average (68.6), which was the lowest on tour since Woods in 2009 (68.05).

Eric Cole, who was the only rookie to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship, received the Arnold Palmer Award as the tour’s rookie of the year. He had runner-up finishes at the Honda Classic, losing to Chris Kirk in a playoff, and the Zozo Championship in Japan.

Cole received 51% of the votes, beating out Ludvig Åberg, Nico Echavarria and Vincent Norrman.

Cole, 35, is the oldest PGA Tour rookie of the year since Todd Hamilton, who was 39 when he won it in 2004. Cole had six top-five finishes in 2022-23, which was tied for fifth-most on tour. He led the tour with 554 birdies on the season.

Cole’s mother, Laura Baugh, was the 1973 LPGA Rookie of the Year.

“I think there’s a cool feeling for me winning this, it being called the Arnold Palmer Award and having a connection with Mr. Palmer growing up and being around him a little bit, and then also my mom winning the LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year exactly 50 years ago,” Cole said. “It just seems almost hard to believe. Like I said, it’s a huge honor, and it’s something I’m very proud of and very honored to win.”


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