Aaron Wise, the 22-year-old University of Oregon product who won the 2016 NCAA individual title and then picked up his first career PGA Tour victory last season, was announced Tuesday as the 2017-18 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
Wise won the AT&T Byron Nelson last May, beating Marc Leishman by three shots at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.
“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said of his win. “… To walk up 18 knowing I kind of had it locked up was pretty cool. I don’t think many people get to do that their first win. Truly special for me.”
The victory was one of four top-10 finishes for Wise in 29 starts last season. He was also second at the Wells Fargo Championship.
One of eight rookies to qualify for last season’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, Wise was the only one to make it to the season-ending Tour Championship. Just 11 rookies had accomplished that before Wise.
Wise was one of just three rookies to win last season on Tour, joining Austin Cook and Satoshi Kodaira, and became just the second player, following Mackenzie Hughes, to win on the Mackenzie Tour, Web.com Tour and PGA Tour.
“For Aaron to have won on the PGA Tour, the Web.com Tour and Mackenzie Tour before the age of 22 is remarkable,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, “and qualifying for the Tour Championship as a rookie proved there is no stage too big for him.”
Following Wise in Rookie of the Year voting, which is open to PGA Tour members who logged at least 15 starts last season, were Cook, Kodaira, Keith Mitchell and Joaquin Niemann.
Wise received his award Tuesday in Las Vegas, his current hometown and a long way from Cape Town, South Africa, where Wise was born before moving to Lake Elsinore, Calif., when he was 3 years old.
“I didn’t come from a lot; lot of people don’t know that,” Wise said. “I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf. … Kind of all along it’s been, very, very few moments to shine and I have to take advantage of them.”
Wise shined brightest among all the rookies last season.