Furyk wins POY; Fowler takes rookie honors
Sunday, January 23, 2011
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Jim Furyk was awarded a prize Saturday just as meaningful as that $10 million bonus he received from winning the FedEx Cup. He was voted by his peers as the PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Furyk was the favorite to win the award with his three PGA Tour victories, including the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup. He was second on the money list and in scoring average to Matt Kuchar.
“The year just keeps getting better is all I can say,” Furyk said. “I’m not sure I want 2010 to end at this point.”
Furyk had gone more than two years without winning until his victory in the Transitions Championship in March, then won again a month later at Hilton Head. He ended the year with a par save from the bunker on the final hole at East Lake to not only win the Tour Championship, but the FedEx Cup.
He previously won player of the year from the PGA of America, an award based on points. This was a vote of PGA Tour players who had to choose among Furyk, Kuchar, Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Ernie Els.
The PGA Tour does not release vote totals.
“This one is very meaningful ... having all my peers and colleagues – basically the guys I play against week in and week out – and to have them vote for me as player of the year is what’s special,” Furyk said.
While the Furyk vote was not surprising, the PGA Tour rookie of the year was sure to raise questions.
Rickie Fowler won the award over Rory McIlroy, Puerto Rico Open winner Derek Lamely and Alex Prugh. McIlroy not only won Quail Hollow, he was third in two majors.
Fowler was a rookie in the purest sense, fresh out of Q-school at age 21. He had two runner-up finishes, at the Phoenix Open and Memorial, and was selected for the Ryder Cup team. In his singles match, he won the last four holes to earn a halve that gave the Americans a chance to win until Graeme McDowell won the final singles match.
Fowler was the youngest rookie of the year since Tiger Woods won the award at age 20 in 1996.
“It’s pretty cool,” Fowler said. “I guess I’m one year behind Tiger, but looking to try and make up some ground. It’s been a lot of fun.”
McIlroy brought stronger credentials.
He not only won the Quail Hollow Championship by closing with a 62, he tied for third at the British Open and the PGA Championship. McIlroy tied a major championship record at St. Andrews when he shot 63 in the first round.
McIlroy had been on the European Tour exclusively the last two years, and perhaps the PGA Tour players did not see him as a true rookie. However, the award went to Vijay Singh in 1993 at age 30, and to Todd Hamilton in 2004 at age 38 after a long career on the Japan Golf Tour.
McIlroy recently said he would not keep his PGA Tour membership next year to focus more on Europe and cut down on his schedule. Whether that had a role in the players’ vote could not be known with polling every player.
“I don’t think so,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “A guy finishes as strong as Rickie did on the FedEx Cup and the money list, players vote for different reasons. But certainly, both guys had great years. Personally, I like to have a little controversy. So if you guys want to write that it’s a controversy, that’s good, because it brings more attention to who won.”
Neither Fowler nor McIlroy reached the Tour Championship. Fowler finished 32nd in the FedEx Cup standings, while McIlroy was 36th.
Furyk won his second major award. He also won the Vardon Trophy in 2006 when Woods did not play the required number of rounds.
Also, Jamie Lovemark won the Nationwide Tour award, typically given to whoever wins the money list.