McIlroy named US PGA Tour Player of Year
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (AFP) –
Rory McIlroy, whose four US PGA Tour victories in 2012 included a major title at the PGA Championship, was named the US tour’s Player of the Year on Tuesday.
US tour members vote on the award, which made the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland the youngest player to be named Player of the Year since then 21-year-old Tiger Woods in 1997.
McIlroy authored a strong finish to the season, including his eight-shot PGA Championship triumph at Kiawah Island.
He won the US PGA Tour money title, along with the European Tour’s money crown, and won the Vardon Trophy awarded by the PGA of America and the US PGA Tour-awarded Byron Nelson award — both for lowest adjusted scoring average.
“It’s always nice to get recognition from your peers, the guys that you’re trying to beat week in, week out,” McIlroy said. “It’s very rewarding and it’s just a great way to end what has been a great year and my best season so far.”
McIlroy became the third European in five years to capture the award. Ireland’s Padraig Harrington won it in 2008, and England‘s Luke Donald received it last year.
The tour does not announce the voting numbers for the award, but the ballot for Player of the Year also included Woods, who had three wins this season, Jason Dufner, Masters Champion Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker, who captured his second title of the season at the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup playoff crown.
John Huh, the only rookie to make it to the Tour Championship, was named Rookie of the Year.
Huh, who secured his card in qualifying-school, won a tournament in Mexico in February that was played opposite the WGC Match Play Championship.
At Playa Del Carmen, Huh parred all eight playoff holes to beat Australian Robert Allenby in a marathon playoff for the title.
After his PGA Championship triumph, McIlroy went on to win the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick.
McIlroy’s other victory was earlier in the season, when he held off Woods to win the Honda Classic and reach number one in the world for the first time.
He surrendered and regained the top spot several times over the season until settling in at number one with his strong late form.
“I think everyone knows that my game wasn’t where I wanted it to be through the start of the summer and leading up to the PGA,” McIlroy said on a conference call.
Once he had the second major of his career under his belt, however, he was off and running.
“From that I gained a lot of confidence, knowing that I could win my second major,” he said. “And I went on from there.”
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said McIlroy’s professionalism was as striking as his game.
“He has handled himself in terrific fashion,” Finchem said.
“He has been very direct with the media and entertaining to the fans inside and outside the ropes. He is at a very young age already making a very solid contribution to what is the most important asset of the PGA Tour, and that is the image of its players.”