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McIlroy wins 2019 PGA TOUR Player of the Year, elevates The players, FedEx Cup


Rory McIlroy. AFP PHOTO / Jim Watson

Rory McIlroy beat out Brooks Koepka to win his third career PGA TOUR Player of the Year award, and in doing so has also elevated the Tour’s premier events, THE PLAYERS Championship and the FedEx Cup.Rory McIlroy was stammering at first, in his phone conference explaining his surprise at winning the 2019 PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Not only that, he was presented the Jack Nicklaus Player of The Year trophy by Nicklaus himself.“I’m at a loss for words,” he began. “To think that I’ve won my third Jack Nicklaus trophy, to be presented with the Jack Nicklaus trophy by the man himself today was very surprising.”

Rory McIlroy also becomes the first golfer to win The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup in the same season. Those are two very big achievements, professionally and monetarily. However, McIlroy also won the Byron Nelson scoring average award for the 2018-2019 season with an adjusted average of 69.057.

“The greatest compliment you receive is that your peers feel like you’ve done something pretty special, and for this award to be voted on by my fellow players, I’m very humbled and very honored,” McIlroy continued. McIlroy cited his overall season, particularly the significant number of top tens, 14 in all, and his improved consistency week-in-and-week-out as being important to him this past season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of what I’ve achieved this year,” McIlroy said. “I wanted to try and bring my best every single week that I played, and I feel like I did that to the best of my ability.” He talked about aiming for more consistency as early as mid-March. He thinks his decision to focus on the U.S. events played an important role, too.

“I treated every event like it was, you know, the biggest week of the year for me, and I think that’s why you’ve seen the consistency, the 14 top-tens, the amount of chances I give myself to win,” he explained.Most often, for a golfer to be voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year, he has to win one of the traditional majors or top the money list and have multiple victories. However, Greg Norman, Jim Furyk and even Fred Couples won it without major titles.

What is certain is that the vote of PGA Tour players demonstrates the upgraded importance of the Players and the Tour Championship (in its new FedEx Cup form) in the eyes of the Tour membership, and Rory McIlroy is either the driving force or the direct beneficiary of that shift.“I think players don’t just feel that four weeks a year is important. It’s more than that,” McIlroy said about the season. “We play a lot more. Why do we play 25 times a year if only four weeks are important?”

McIlroy believed that Brooks Koepka, also in the running for PGA TOUR Player of The Year voting, had a very good chance.“Brooks has had an incredible year, an incredible two, three years, whatever it is,” McIlroy continued. “He’s the No. 1 player in the world in the world golf rankings.”He thought Koepka’s victory at the PGAChampionship would be the difference maker in the voting.

“I think this speaks volumes of what PGA Tour players feel is important,” McIlroy concluded.Certainly, based on the vote of the players, the Tour’s flagship events – the Players and the FedEx Cup finale – have been elevated to a much higher status than ever before.
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