No shocker here: Rory McIlroy was announced as the 2014 PGA Tour Player of the Year on Wednesday, his second such accolade in three years. The award is voted on by all tour members for the season.
The world No. 1 rose to that top billing in the middle of a four-week stretch this summer that saw him win each of the three tournaments he played – two majors sandwiched around a World Golf Championship. McIlroy captured the Open Championship by two strokes on July 20, took the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by the same margin on Aug. 3, and one week later claimed the PGA Championship by a stroke.
Despite entering the FedExCup playoffs ranked No. 1, McIlroy could not secure another victory. Yet, he finished in the top eight at three of the four events and finished the season ranked third in FedExCup points.
McIlroy was the clear No. 1 on the PGA Tour money list, though. He finished the season with $8.28 million in winnings, nearly $2 million more than Bubba Watson in second place. That’s the highest money total for McIlroy in his career.
He also led the tour in top-10 finishes with 12, a feat made more remarkable considering he started just 17 PGA Tour events. McIlroy made the cut each time, and never placed lower than 25th. His three wins on tour were matched only by Jimmy Walker, and McIlroy also claimed the Byron Nelson Award, which goes to the player holding the lowest adjusted scoring average (68.83).
This just goes to show how much can change in one year. In 16 PGA Tour starts in 2013, McIlroy finished inside the top 10 only five times and outside the top 25 nine times. He earned just $1.8 million, his lowest mark since his first year on tour, which included only 11 starts.
A stark year-to-year difference can also be seen in Tiger Woods, who collected the PGA Tour’s top honor for 2013 after five wins. During a 2013-14 season marred by injury, he started seven events, finished in the top 25 just once, missed two cuts, withdrew twice, and earned only $108,275, the lowest total of his career.
Woods started the year ranked No. 1 in the world, and is now 16th. McIlroy started the year ranked No. 6, but now has a firm grasp on No. 1.
Also announced Wednesday was Chesson Hadley as PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. The 27-year-old’s highlight came at the Puerto Rico Open, which he won by carding a tournament-record 21-under par. He also secured top-10 finishes at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (T-5), Deutsche Bank Championship (T-9) and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (T-10).
The only rookie to advance to the third of four legs of the FedExCup playoffs, Hadley ended up No. 49 in FedExCup points and is currently ranked 88th in the world after starting 2014 at 103. He earned $1.7 million in 29 PGA Tour starts.
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