PGA Player of the Year
There’s a fear that the PGA Player of the Year has become more of a popularity contest and less about actual accomplishments. If so, it’s a regression and will surely lead to a false positive. The POY used to be about an annual resume, which included a weighting system. That means a Major is worth two maybe three regular events, and if you listen to Rory McIlroy, it’s worth three or four. Sufficed to say, Major Championships rule the day. If you don’t have one, you don’t have a shot in h…ey, wait a minute. “What about Dustin Johnson?”
Sure, he’s one of the “contenders,” but his Major performances this year were UGLY! He “fell” out of the Masters, MC (Missed Cut) at the US Open, T54 at the British Open and T13 at the PGA Championship. With the current metrics, there is no way in Hades he will have a shot at the POY. Everyone is hanging their hat on his four victories, but no one tells where they were. He won the Genesis Open, the WGC-Mexico Championship, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and most recently at the Northern Trust. Gobbling up points for a FedEx Cup is great, but that does not equate to a POY. There are several actual contenders for this award however and here they are.
First and foremost is Justin Thomas. Not only does he have four victories, but one of them is a Major (PGA Championship). Yes, he had a MC at the British Open, but finished T22 at the Masters and T9 at the US Open. He’s currently 6th on the OWGR (Official World Golf Ranking) and is quietly working his way toward #1. His length in conjunction with touch is a rare quality and if harnessed, he will be in the hunt for POY for the foreseeable future. On a side note, he has the best style on the PGA Tour and actually looks like a player. Most of the guys these days rock t-shirts and gym shoes. Thanks Nike!
Second on the list is Jordan Spieth. He has three victories, of which one is a Major (British Open), two 2nd, two 3rd, nine top 10 and fourteen top 25. Add to that, a T11 at the Masters, T35 at the US Open and T28 at the PGA Championship. He’s sitting in 2nd on the OWGR and has already achieved three legs of the Career Grand Slam. To all the so called “experts,” you better get ready to eat crow. This young man has literally put together the greatest “bad season” in the history of the PGA Tour.
Third on the hit parade is Brooks Koepka. I realize he only has one victory, but it was the US Open! I’ll take his one Major over four ho-hum regular events all day long. Add to that two 2nd, six top 10, ten top 25 and vaulting himself to 12th on the OWGR and I have no problem throwing his name in the hat. Oh by the way, he finished T11 at the Masters, T6 at the British Open and T13 at the PGA Championship (best combined finish of any pro)! Another little tidbit, is the fact the young man has busted his butt to get to this point. He played on the European Tour, Japan Tour and Challenge Tour before getting the opportunity to play full time on the PGA Tour. Kudos to Mr. Koepka and good luck moving forward.
Fourth and finally is Hideki Matsuyama. If you’re going to look at anyone who has not won a Major this year, he’s your guy. Not only has he racked up three wins, he has three 2nd, seven top 10, eleven top 25 and is 3rd on the OWGR. Bundle all that together and throw in the hardest worker on tour and you have quite possibly the most consistent player in the game. It’s easy to say that “He’s the best player without a Major,” but that won’t last long. The kid’s the total package and has a hint of Vijay Singh to him. That obviously bodes well for a career, but more importantly a Major. If you’re heading to Vegas in early 2018, put $100 on him winning one of the four next year.
To wrap it all up and tie it with a bow, all you need to know is… The PGA Tour is more than one person. There are literally 93 players within two strokes of the Scoring Average lead. That means during a given week, darn near 100 individuals have a shot at winning. That’s why, when dealing with POY honors, Major’s matter. The tougher the tournament, the deeper the field, the more impressive the victory. Anyone who says otherwise, has “cream of” no idea about the PGA Tour. You can gauge the entire season by looking at ten to twelve events. The rest is window dressing, which only adds to the pocketbook. To that point, you can keep the FedEx Cup and all the “pomp and ceremony.” It’s better to spend your time focusing on the best events, regardless of which side of the pond they happen to be on. Good luck to all the contenders and may the best man win.